National Park Service
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Frequently Asked Questions


What is SEAN?

The Southeast Alaska Network is a unit of the National Park Service charged with designing and implementing a long-term ecological monitoring program for three parks in Southeast Alaska: Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, and Sitka National Historical Park. SEAN is committed to collecting and delivering high-quality inventory and monitoring data and information. In some cases, SEAN gathers and validates resource management data produced during normal park operations. In others, SEAN directly sponsors projects that build useful data sets. SEAN also harvests relevant data collected by other agencies and researchers.


What are Vital Signs?

Park vital signs are a subset of physical, chemical, and biological elements and processes of park ecosystems. They are selected to represent the overall health or condition of park resources, known or hypothesized effects of stressors, or elements that have important human values. SEAN’s web site is designed so people interested in specific vital signs may readily locate content of interest.


What are “Inventory” and “Monitoring”?

Natural resource inventories are extensive point-in-time surveys to determine the location or condition of a resource. These include the presence, class, distribution, and status of biological resources such as plants and animals. They also address abiotic resources such as air, water, soils, landforms, and climate.

Monitoring is the process of collecting repeated observations through time. Monitoring is a central component of natural resource stewardship in the National Park Service. In conjunction with natural resource inventories and research, monitoring provides the information needed for effective, science-based decision-making.


Who do I contact to learn more?

Each vital sign main page has a “Contact Information” link that explains how to reach principal investigators and others knowledgeable about the particular project. General information about the SEAN program is available using the “Contact Us” navigation link on the upper left side of the screen.


How do I know if data are useful for my specific research?

Go to the vital sign’s main page and review the Abstract and Protocol papers that are available there. If the documentation is unclear or incomplete you may contact the investigators directly by using the Contact Information link.


Can I get custom tailored reports and data downloads from SEAN?

SEAN aims to provide data in its most usable and accessible form, accompanied by adequate metadata. Unfortunately, SEAN does not have the resources to recast content to the specifications of individual users. Users generally are given the option to download data, which they may then manipulate with common software such as Excel or R. If you have an idea for an information product that would be of general interest to the community, by all means sketch it out in an email to the webmaster. SEAN is always looking for ways to better serve users.


Some vital signs have extensive information available, while others are minimal. Does SEAN hold back data?

SEAN endeavors to make data and information available as soon as quality control processes are complete. This, in turn, requires project staff to apply corrections in timely fashion. It can take projects considerable time to finalize data. Also, development of specific vital sign monitoring programs – and the ultimate products defined by their protocols – is prioritized and phased. Higher priority projects usually generate more information and offer more products on the web site.


How can I get broken links and unviewable content fixed?

On the bottom of every page is an email link to the webmaster. When reporting a problem, it helps to include the exact URL where the issue was first encountered. The webmaster is very interested in keeping the web site fully functionally and appreciates being notified of specific faults.


Why do certain links not respond when I click on them?

NPS policies designate certain information as sensitive. Sources of sensitive data are blocked by NPS network firewalls. Such sources cannot be queried outside of the Park Service network. This restriction also applies to single sources that have both public and sensitive data commingled.


How can I access sensitive information?

Certain research information is labeled as sensitive because it could be used to harm, remove, or destroy certain resources protected by units of the NPS. Exact location of fragile archeological artifacts, for example, may be considered sensitive. This information is not distributed over the Internet. If you have need for sensitive information that may be managed by SEAN, please contact the data manager listed in the Contact Us link.



Last Updated: March 28, 2014 Contact Webmaster