Award-Winning NPS Scientist Creates Website for Visualizing Forest Vegetation and Stream Water Data

Date: February 11, 2015
Contact: Megan Nortrup, 202-339-8314

WASHINGTON—Ecologist John Paul "J.P." Schmit, Ph.D., and colleagues in the National Park Service (NPS) National Capital Region Network, Inventory and Monitoring (NCRN I&M) program, have created two online visualization tools for examining national park streams and forests in the greater Washington region.

The two "Visualizer" sites are designed to help park managers understand and respond to stream water quality and forest vegetation. The sites offer frequently updated information about important changes and trends and allow for customized queries not available in printed reports. They give parks more lead time to react to sometimes complex ecological issues. The sites are a new step in NPS efforts to care for park resources through a deeper scientific knowledge of those resources.  

The water visualizer uses NPS-gathered stream monitoring data to create graphs of pH, temperature, nutrients and other parameters in specific streams. It shows trends, seasonal patterns and acceptable threshold levels. Information can be downloaded in image or in database format. 

The Forest Vegetation Visualizer displays NPS-gathered data on trees, shrubs, vines, seedlings and herbs. The forest visualizer adds an interactive map tool and species lists to the graphing function of the water visualizer. 

Schmit received the NPS's 2014 Exceptional IT Service Award for his work in creating the "Water Quality Visualizer." As Quantitative Ecologist for NCRN I&M, he assists with the development of the sampling designs for the NCRN monitoring plan. He also analyzes monitoring data to detect long term trends in the network parks. His research interests have focused on biodiversity, biogeography and competition of fungi.

ABOUT NCRN I&M: The National Capital Region Network, Inventory & Monitoring program is part of a larger National Park Service effort to better care for park resources through a deeper scientific knowledge of those resources. NCRN monitors the status and trends of natural resources in 11 national park areas  in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia that share common natural resources. Visit our website at 

Update 2/27/15: The links to the Water Quality Visualizer and Forest Vegetation map were updated.

Last updated: December 1, 2015