Vital Signs Monitoring
To protect the treasures in their care, park managers need accurate information about what kinds of resources are in the park, how and why they are changing over time, and what amount of change is normal. But park staff can’t do it alone.
Like a physician monitoring a patient's heartbeat and blood pressure, scientists with the Northern Colorado Plateau Network collect long-term data on park “vital signs”—key resources that can indicate overall ecosystem health. At Pipe Spring National Monument, they monitor air quality, climate, landbirds, and phenology. Then they analyze the results and report them to park managers. When managers have early warning of potential problems, they are better able to deal with them before they become harder—and more expensive—to fix.
Studying park vital signs is only part of the picture. Scientific research is also conducted by park staff, other state and federal scientists, university professors and students, and independent researchers. Because many parks prohibit activities that occur elsewhere, scientists can use the parks as "control" areas for determining the effects of these activities where they do occur. Especially in the American West, national park lands often serve as the best model for what a relatively undisturbed landscape looks like.
Park Species Lists
Last updated: May 8, 2020