National Park Service

Great Lakes Network (GLKN)


A climber carefully approaches an eagle nest
A climber carefully approaches an eagle nest

The intent of park vital signs monitoring is to track a subset of physical, chemical, and biological elements and processes of park ecosystems that 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 GLKN Monitoring Plan provides a detailed description of the strategy for monitoring these vital signs. The currently monitored vital signs are listed below.

Vital Signs Sampling Protocol Status
Amphibians In Development
Climate In Development
Diatoms Complete
Inland Lakes Water Quality Complete
Land Birds Complete
Land Cover & Land Use Complete
Large Rivers Water Quality Complete
Persistent Contaminants
  • Persistent contaminant protocol for eagles is complete.
  • Persistent contaminant protocol for fish and dragonflies is in development.
Vegetation Complete
Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Contact Webmaster