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Mid-Atlantic Network (MIDN)

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Vital Signs Monitoring

Benthic macroinvertebrate monitoring
Benthic macroinvertebrate monitoring

The purpose of this Vital Signs Monitoring Plan is to establish the vital signs, explain the approach used to develop sampling designs and protocols, and outline the administrative and budgetary framework for the Mid-Atlantic Network. In addition, the report addresses the long-term management of data that is essential to the monitoring program.

The five Goals of Vital Signs Monitoring that the 32 networks of parks are addressing as they design and implement their natural resource monitoring program are as follows:

  • Determine the status and trends in selected indicators of the condition of park ecosystems to allow managers to make better-informed decisions and to work more effectively with other agencies and individuals for the benefit of park resources.
  • Provide early warning of abnormal conditions of selected resources to help develop effective mitigation measures and reduce costs of management.
  • Provide data to better understand the dynamic nature and condition of park ecosystems and to provide reference points for comparisons with other, altered environments.
  • Provide data to meet certain legal and Congressional mandates related to natural resource protection and visitor enjoyment.
  • Provide a means of measuring progress towards performance goals.

The vital signs selected by the MIDN include a suite of physical, chemical, and biological elements and processes that collectively represent the overall health or condition of park resources. 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 vital signs selected by the MIDN include a suite of physical, chemical, and biological elements and processes that collectively represent the overall health or condition of park resources. The MIDN has also identified five additional vital signs of importance that will be implemented if additional funding becomes available.

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 MIDN 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.


Monitoring Protocols and Vitals Signs

Vital Sign Category Vital Signs Protocol Status
Air Quality
  • Ozone
  • Wet and dry deposition
  • Air contaminants (mercury)
  • Visibility and particulate matter
Complete
Benthic Macroinvertebrates
  • Benthic Macroinvertibrates
Legacy protocol for Shenandoah in place, MIDN-wide protocol in development.
Breeding Birds
  • Breeding Birds
MIDN-wide protocol in development
Fish
  • Fish
  • Stream/River Channel Characteristics
Legacy protocol for Shenandoah in place
Forest Vegetation
  • Forest plant communities
  • Invasive exotic plants
  • Exotic diseases/pathogens–plants
  • Native forest pests
  • White-tailed deer (browsing)
  • Soil structure and composition.
Complete
Water Quality and Quantity
  • Water chemistry
  • Stream and river water dynamics
  • Stream/river channel characteristics
Legacy protocol for Shenandoah in place, MIDN-wide protocol in development
Weather & Climate
  • Weather & Climate
In Development
White-tailed Deer
  • White-tailed Deer
Legacy protocol for Shenandoah in place

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Contact Webmaster