Science & Research

Monarch butterfly
Monarch butterfly


Scientific research is key to protecting the wonders of our national parks. To make sound decisions, park managers need accurate information about the resources in their care. They also need to know how park ecosystems change 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 Sonoran Desert Network collect long-term data on Tuzigoot National Monument’s “vital signs.” They monitor key indicators, like climate, springs, and streams. Then they analyze the results and report them to park managers. Knowing how key resources are changing can provide managers with early warning of potential problems. It can also help them to make better decisions and plan more effectively.

Studying park vital signs is only part of the picture. Scientific research is also conducted by park staff and outside 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.


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    Last updated: March 28, 2021

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