Park Science Magazine | Summer 2022

A uniformed National Park Service employee with a helmet and light kneels on a cave floor overlooking a cave pool. A black banner on top of picture has Park Science magazine logo. Banner on bottom says, "Cave Waters Tell a Story of Breathing Humans."
Pink peaches on a tree with dark, shiny green leaves in a National Park Service orchard

Image credit: NPS

From the Editor

Simple Things

In this issue, we look at how science is helping us restore landscapes, heal old wounds, and form new friendships across the globe.


Black image with Park Science magazine logo and the word "Celebrates!" in gold.

Podcast | International Affairs
How "America's Best Idea" Went Global

"America's best idea" is also one of our most influential exports! International Cooperation Specialist Jon Putnam talks about the National Park Service’s global connections in science on the 60th anniversary of the agency's Office of International Affairs (22 minutes).
By Kass Bissmeyer and Cortney Cjesfjeld

Podcast | National Natural Landmarks
A Landmark Program Celebrates a Milestone

The National Natural Landmarks Program celebrates its 60th anniversary! Hear from program managers Heather Eggleston, Laurie Lee Jenkins, and Deb DiQuinzio how this program works to promote the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail and other amazing places (18 minutes).
By Kass Bissmeyer and Sarah Sparhawk

Image credit: NPS

In Brief

A man wearing an NPS uniform and sunglasses looks down next to a creek.

News | Salmon
King Salmon's Surprise Reign in Muir Woods

A record-breaking storm drew dozens of huge, spawning fish into a small creek at the heart of Muir Woods. They unleashed a flood of questions.
By Jessica Weinberg McClosky
Image credit: NPS / Tara Blake

A small beige and white bird with long black beak and big dark eyes covers a chick as she sits in a sand scrape next to a green plant.

News | Plovers
Western Snowy Plovers Could Face Multiple Threats from Climate Change

A study at Point Reyes National Seashore finds habitat loss from sea level rise isn’t the only significant climate-related impact on these at-risk shorebirds.
By Matt Lau
Image credit: NPS / Matt Lau

Three men and a woman look at a chart resting on the hood of a car. The older man on the right is explaining something to the others. Behind them are a large grassy field and blue skies.

News | Park Planning
Overcoming “Analysis Paralysis” through Better Climate Change Scenario Planning

A recently published paper shares best practices for using this valuable tool.
By Gregor W. Schuurman, Brian W. Miller, Amy J. Symstad, Amber N. Runyon, and Brecken C. Robb
Image credit: NPS

Picture This

The stories behind extraordinary images and videos from the practice of park science

I Helped a Sister Park Find Alien Fish

A National Park Service scientist visits Crater Lake’s European sister park to share a new DNA technique for detecting hard-to-find species.


Imaginary landscape with red rocks and wispy white clouds. There is a circular disk between them filled with blue sky and puffy white clouds.

Opinion | Park Planning
The Prescience of Desired Future Conditions

Landscape restoration goals must intersect with deeply imagined park planning to realize the future we want.
By Davyd Halyn Betchkal
Image credit: NPS / D. H. Betchkal

A woman with long hair and in an NPS uniform and hat stands with her back to the camera as she looks at a distant landscape filled with red rocks

Opinion | Hoodoos
We Don’t Know What Will Happen to Bryce Canyon’s Hoodoos

Only one scientific study about the effect of temperature on these iconic rock spires has ever been done. Without knowing more, the effect of a warming climate is anyone’s guess.
By Claire Crise
Image credit: NPS / Tiffany Zadi

Closeup of a tan-colored beetle viewed from the side

Research | Beetles
An Urban Biodiversity Refuge Yields Four Beetle Species New to Science

Inside the Washington Beltway lies a portion of the Potomac Gorge, a haven for thousands of animals and plants. Some are yet to be described.
By Brent Steury
Image credit: NPS / Brent Steury

Bighorn rams with imposing horns graze on green vegetation against a backdrop of red rocks and earth interspersed with green shrubs

Observations | Bighorn Sheep
Bighorn Sheep Reclaimed Abandoned Habitat during the Pandemic and Had Lots of Young. Now What?

I spent weeks informally observing desert bighorn sheep during the 2020 pandemic closure. My observations show where to take our research.
By William B. Sloan
Image credit: NPS / W. B. Sloan


A man in an NPS uniform with a helmet and headlamp looks over a turquoise pool surrounded by cave formations

Cave Waters Tell a Story of Breathing Humans

A long-term study in a Utah cave shows that people’s exhalations have measurable impacts on cave waters and the growth of mineral formations.
By Kirsten Bahr, with Rebecca Weissinger, Chris Groves, Andy Armstrong, and Cami McKinney
Image credit: NPS

A young woman with long, brown hair and glasses, wearing a blue checkered top, miles at the camera.

Horticulture | DNA
How a Navajo Scientist Is Helping to Restore Traditional Peach Horticulture

Reagan Wytsalucy’s desire to help her people took her on a journey to discover the fruit’s storied heritage—and reconnect with her own.
By Susan Dolan, with Reagan Wytsalucy and Keith Lyons
Image used by permission of Reagan Wytsalucy

Woman stands next to a pickup truck with a cord of tamarisk firewood at Lees Ferry

Invasives | Archeology
Parks Look for Ways to Alleviate Glen Canyon Dam’s Downstream Impacts

Vegetation experiments are helping restore Colorado River sites in Grand Canyon and Glen Canyon.
By Lonnie H. Pilkington, Joel B. Sankey, Daniel L. Boughter, Taryn N. Preston, and Cam C. Prophet
Image credit: NPS / Taryn Preston

A young man with a moustache holds the hand of a boy holding a brown and white bird.

Migratory Birds
Bridging Boundaries to Protect Migratory Birds

U.S. national parks are part of an international network tracking vulnerable migratory birds. They are also vital training grounds for future bird conservationists.
By Sarah Milligan, Sarah Stock, Steve Albert, and Dave Trevino
Image credit: NPS

A group of young people look at the contents of a net held by a man in an MPS uniform. they stand next to water surrounded by green plants.

Dragonfly Mercury Project
How an Insect Became a National Park Service Superhero

Through the power of partnerships, the Dragonfly Mercury Project elevated the importance of a commonly found insect. It also showed that citizen science can be a potent research tool.
By Colleen Flanagan Pritz, Katherine Ko, Sarah J. Nelson, and Collin A. Eagles-Smith
Image credit: NPS / Colleen Flanagan

A diver applies antibiotic to a brain coral underwater.

Coral Reefs
Buck Island’s Corals Get Relief from a Deadly Disease

Through trial and error, outreach, and a small army of volunteer divers, scientists slow the progress of one of the Caribbean’s most lethal coral diseases—for now.
By Kristen A. Ewen
Image credit: NPS

About This Issue

Last updated: January 26, 2024