Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 151, Issue 1–4, pp 161–174 | Cite as

Monitoring the condition of natural resources in US national parks

Article

Abstract

The National Park Service has developed a long-term ecological monitoring program for 32 ecoregional networks containing more than 270 parks with significant natural resources. The monitoring program assists park managers in developing a broad-based understanding of the status and trends of park resources as a basis for making decisions and working with other agencies and the public for the long-term protection of park ecosystems. We found that the basic steps involved in planning and designing a long-term ecological monitoring program were the same for a range of ecological systems including coral reefs, deserts, arctic tundra, prairie grasslands, caves, and tropical rainforests. These steps involve (1) clearly defining goals and objectives, (2) compiling and summarizing existing information, (3) developing conceptual models, (4) prioritizing and selecting indicators, (5) developing an overall sampling design, (6) developing monitoring protocols, and (7) establishing data management, analysis, and reporting procedures. The broad-based, scientifically sound information obtained through this systems-based monitoring program will have multiple applications for management decision-making, research, education, and promoting public understanding of park resources. When combined with an effective education program, monitoring results can contribute not only to park issues, but also to larger quality-of-life issues that affect surrounding communities and can contribute significantly to the environmental health of the nation.

Keywords

Ecological monitoring Environmental monitoring Monitoring design Indicator National park Protected areas Protocol Sampling design Vital signs 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bailey, R. G. (1998). Ecoregions map of North America: Explanatory note. USDA Forest Service, Washington, DC. Miscellaneous Publication 1548.Google Scholar
  2. Bennett, A. J., Thompson, W. L., & Mortenson, D. C. (2006). Vital signs monitoring plan, Southwest Alaska Network. National Park Service. Retrieved 21 Jan 2008 from http://science.nature.nps.gov/im/monitor/monitoringplans.cfm.
  3. Bestelmeyer, B. T. (2003). Development and use of state-and-transition models for rangelands. Journal of Range Management, 56, 114–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Busch, E. D., & Trexler, J. C. (2003). The importance of monitoring in regional ecosystem initiatives. In E. D. Busch, & J. C. Trexler (Eds.) Monitoring ecosystems: interdisciplinary approaches for evaluating ecoregional initiatives (pp. 1–23). Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  5. Chapin, F. S., Torn, M. S., & Tateno, M. (1996). Principles of ecosystem sustainability. American Naturalist, 148, 1016–1037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cloern, J. E. (2001). Our evolving conceptual model of the coastal eutrophication problem. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 210, 223–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Davis, G. E. (1989). Design of a long-term ecological monitoring programme for Channel Islands National Park. Natural Areas Journal, 9, 80–89.Google Scholar
  8. Davis, G. E. (2005). National Park stewardship and ‘vital signs’ monitoring: a case study from Channel Islands National Park, California. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 15, 71–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dennison, W. C., Lookingbill, T. R., Carruthers, T. J. B., Hawkey, J. M., & Carter, S. L. (2007). An eye-opening approach to developing and communicating integrated environmental assessments. Frontiers in Ecology & the Environment, 5, 307–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. EEA (2003). EUNIS web application. Retrieved 21 Jan 2008 from http://eunis.eea.europa.eu/index.jsp.
  11. EPA (2002). A Framework for Assessing and Reporting on Ecological Condition: an SAB Report. Environmental Protection Agency, Science Advisory Board. Washington, DC. EPA-SAB-EPEC-02-009.Google Scholar
  12. Garrett, L. K., Rodhouse, T. J., Dicus, G. H., Caudill, C. C. & Shardlow, M. R. (2007). Upper Columbia Basin Network vital signs monitoring plan. National Park Service, Moscow, ID. Natural Resource Report NPS/UCBN/NRR-2007/002.Google Scholar
  13. Grossman D. H., Faber-Langendoen, D., Weakley, A. S., Anderson, M., Bourgeron, P., Crawford, R., et al. (1998). International classification of ecological communities: terrestrial vegetation of the United States, vol. I, The national vegetation classification system: Development, status, and applications. Arlington, VA: The Nature Conservancy.Google Scholar
  14. Hansen, M. H., Madow, W. G., & Tepping, B. J. (1983). An evaluation of model dependent and probability sampling inferences in sample surveys. Journal of American Statistical Association, 78, 776–793.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Harwell, M. A., Myers, V., Young, T., Bartuska, A., Gassman, N., Gentile, J. H., et al. (1999). A framework for an ecosystem integrity report card. BioScience, 49, 543–556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kurtz, J. C., Jackson, L. E., & Fisher, W. S. (2001). Strategies for evaluating indicators based on guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development. Ecological Indicators, 1, 49–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. McDonald, T. L. (2003). Review of environmental monitoring methods: survey designs. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 85, 277–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Miller, M. E. (2005). The structure and functioning of dryland ecosystems – Conceptual models to inform long-term ecological monitoring. US Geological Survey, Moab, UT. Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5197.Google Scholar
  19. National Park System Advisory Board (2001). Rethinking the national parks for the 21st century. National Park Service, Washington, DC. Retrieved 21 Jan 2008 from http://www.nps.gov/policy/report.htm.
  20. Noss, R. F. (1990). Indicators for monitoring biodiversity. A hierarchical approach. Conservation Biology, 4, 355–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. NPS (2006). Management policies 2006. Retrieved 21 Jan 2008 from http://www.nps.gov/policy.
  22. NPS (2007). Vital signs monitoring. Retrieved 21 Jan 2008 from http://science.nature.nps.gov/im/monitor.
  23. NPS (2008). Southern Plains Network vital signs monitoring plan. Natural Resource Report NPS/SOPN/NRR-2008/028. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.Google Scholar
  24. NRMP (2007). Natural Resource Monitoring Partnership. Retrieved 21 Jan 2008 from http://nrmp.nbii.gov.
  25. Oakley, K. L., Thomas, L. P., & Fancy, S. G. (2003). Guidelines for long-term monitoring protocols. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 31, 1000–1003.Google Scholar
  26. Ogden, J. D., Davis, S. M., Jacobs, K. J., Barnes, T., & Fling, H. E. (2005). The use of conceptual ecological models to guide ecosystem restoration in South Florida. Wetlands, 25, 795–809.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Olsen, A. R., Sedransk, J., Edwards, D., Gotway, C. A., Liggett, W., Rathburn, S. L., et al. (1999). Statistical issues for monitoring ecological and natural resources in the United States. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 54, 1–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Roman, C. T., & Barrett, N. E. (1999). Conceptual framework for the development of long-term monitoring protocols at Cape Cod National Seashore. US Geological Survey, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Cooperative National Parks Studies Unit, Narragansett, RI.Google Scholar
  29. Schreuder, H. T., Ernst, R., & Ramirez-Maldonado, H. (2004). Statistical techniques for sampling and monitoring natural resources. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. RMRS-GTR-126.Google Scholar
  30. Soukup, M. (2007). Integrating science and management: becoming who we thought we were. George Wright Forum, 24, 26–29.Google Scholar
  31. Stevens Jr, D. L., & Olsen, A. R. (2003). Variance estimation for spatially balanced samples of environmental resources. Environmetrics, 14, 593–610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Stevens Jr, D. L., & Olsen, A. R. (2004). Spatially balanced sampling of natural resources. Journal of American Statistical Association, 99, 262–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Vaughan, H., Brydges, T., Fenech, A., & Lumb, A. (2001). Monitoring long-term ecological changes through the Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network: science-based and policy relevant. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 67, 3–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Westoby, M., Walker, B., & Noy-Meir, I. (1989). Opportunistic management for rangelands not at equilibrium. Journal of Range Management, 42, 266–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Woodley, S. J. (1993). Monitoring and measuring ecological integrity in Canadian National Parks. In S. J. Woodley, J. Kay, & G. Francis (Eds.)Ecosystem integrity and the management of ecosystems (pp. 155–176). Delray Beach, FL: St. Lucie.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Natural Resource Program Center, Office of Inventory, Monitoring, and EvaluationNational Park ServiceFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.National Capital Region, Center for Urban EcologyNational Park ServiceWashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations