National Park Service

Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network (NCBN)


Measuring horseshoe crabs at Fire Island National Seashore
Measuring horseshoe crabs at Fire Island National Seashore

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 NCBN 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 Category Sampling Protocol Vital Signs Monitored Status
Coastal Geomorphology Ocean Shoreline Position
  1. Ocean Shoreline Position
Coastal Geomorphology
  1. Coastal Topography
  2. Anthropogenic Modifications
  3. Marine Hydrography
  4. Offshore Topography
Estuarine Nutrient Enrichment Direct Measures
(Water Quality & Seagrass)
  1. Estuarine Sediment Chemistry
  2. Estuarine Water Chemistry
  3. Estuarine Water Clarity
  4. Estuarine Water Quality
  5. Seagrass Condition
  6. Seagrass Distribution
Nitrogen Loading Inputs
  1. Nitrogen Loading Inputs
In Progress
Forest Health Forest Health
  1. Forest Plant Communities
  2. Invasive Exotic Plants
  3. Native Forest Pests
  4. Exotic Diseases
  5. Plant Pathogens
  6. White Tailed Deer (herbivory)
  7. Soil Structure and Composition (pending development)
Landscape Change Landscape Change
  1. Landscape Change
In Progress
Marsh Birds Marsh Birds
  1. Marsh Birds
In Progress
Salt Marsh Monitoring Salt Marsh Elevation
  1. Salt Marsh Sediment Elevation
In Progress
Salt Marsh Nekton Communities
  1. Salt Marsh Nekton Community Structure
In Progress
Salt Marsh Vegetation
  1. Salt Marsh Vegetation Community Structure
In Progress
Visitor Use Impacts Visitor Use Impacts
  1. Shoreline Position
In Progress

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Contact Webmaster