Uplands represent the vast majority of land area in the
Northern Colorado Plateau Network (NCPN), and include
rock outcrops, badlands, shrublands, grasslands,
woodlands, and forests. Upland vegetation provides energy
to other trophic levels, habitat structure for various
organisms, and is a significant component of species diversity.
The ability of uplands to retain soil and nutrients,
absorb and release water, and buffer high-runoff precipitation
events is a major influence on riparian condition. Upland
ecosystems are easily disturbed and slow to recover,
yet several NCPN units contain relatively undisturbed examples
of grasslands and shrublands. Historic land uses
include livestock and timber production; more recently,
recreational use has increased. To effectively manage uplands,
the National Park Service needs to know the impacts
of these uses.
Upland monitoring plot in Canyonlands National Park.
Integrated upland monitoring includes measuring soil and site stability, hydrologic function, biotic integrity, vegetation composition and structure, and biological soil crusts. At ten NCPN parks, a complex survey design incorporates plots that are visited in two consecutive years, followed by a relatively long interval between revisits; some plots are visited only once every 5-10 years. This design minimizes the chances that sensitive, arid ecosystem plots will be damaged by repeated visits in successive years and is a cost-effective way to estimate the health of the upland ecosystem across a large area. NCPN upland monitoring is intended to strike a balance between increasing fundamental understanding of these systems and providing managers with early warning of undesirable change.
For more detailed information, see the In-depth Information box below.
Network park units where upland ecosystems are monitored
Cedar Breaks NM
Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP
Bryce Canyon NP
Timpanogos Cave NM
Capitol Reef NP
NP = National Park; NM = National Monument; NRA = National Recreation Area
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