Monitoring promotes stewardship of natural resources by providing science based information to managers for decision making. Monitoring provides site-specific information needed to understand and identify change in complex, variable, and imperfectly understood natural systems. Understanding the dynamic nature of park ecosystems and the consequences of human activities is essential for management decision-making aimed to maintain, enhance, or restore the ecological integrity of park ecosystems and to avoid, minimize, or mitigate ecological threats to these systems. For more information about service-wide efforts to implement vital signs monitoring visit the NPS Vital Signs Monitoring Site
The Network Vital Signs Monitoring Plan
The Network Vital Signs Monitoring Plan was developed in 3 phases. Phase 1 of the process involved defining goals and objectives; beginning the process of identifying, evaluating and synthesizing existing data; developing draft conceptual models; and completing other background work that must be done before the initial selection of vital signs. Phase 2 of the planning and design effort involved prioritizing and selecting the vital signs that are included in the network's integrated monitoring program. The third planning phase focused on the details needed to implement monitoring, including monitoring protocols for selected vital signs and statistical sampling designs. The final monitoring plan also includes a plan for data management and analysis, a summary of products (e.g. reports, websites) used to report monitoring results, and an overview of program administration, funding, and operation. The complete plan including appendices and supplemental document can be found at the HTLN Intranet (NPS Only).
Heartland Network staff in cooperation with park managers and other agencies are actively monitoring a variety of vital signs across the parks. The vital signs represent both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems at the population, community and landscape scales. Visit the individual monitoring pages for more information including monitoring objectives, background material, protocols, and reports.