National Park Service

Appalachian Highlands Network (APHN)


Freshwater mussels at Big South Fork River NRRA
Freshwater mussels at Big South Fork River NRRA

The intent of park vital signs monitoring is to track a subset of physical, chemical, and biological elements and processes of park ecosystems. These elements 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.

The elements and processes that are monitored are a subset of the total suite of natural resources that park managers are directed to preserve "unimpaired for future generations," including water, air, geological resources, plants and animals, and the various ecological, biological, and physical processes that act on those resources. In situations where natural areas have been so highly altered that physical and biological processes no longer operate (e.g., control of fires and floods in developed areas), information obtained through monitoring can help managers understand how to develop the most effective approach to restoration or, in cases where restoration is impossible, ecologically sound management.

The APHN Monitoring Plan provides a detailed description of the strategy for monitoring these vital signs. The table below shows the detailed monitoring protocols used to sample these vital signs to date.

Vital Signs Sampling Protocol Status
Air Quality Under Development
Aquatic Macroinvertebrates Under Development
Cobble Bars Completed
Exploited Plants Under Development
Freshwater Mussels Under Development
Landscape Change Under Development
Rare Fish Under Development
Water Quality Under Development
Weather and Climate Under Development

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Contact Webmaster