National Park Service

San Francisco Bay Area Network (SFAN)

Riparian Habitat Monitoring

Bear Creek at Pinnacles National Park.  Photo by Gavin Emmons, NPS.
Bear Creek at Pinnacles National Park

Monitoring Documents

Parks monitored:

For more information contact: Marie Denn


Riparian Habitat Brief

Riparian habitat monitoring Pinnacles National Park resource brief
Click on image to download...

Riparian habitats, found along streams and lakes, typically support verdant stands of water-loving plants. Particularly in arid Western states, these habitats provide refuge and forage for many species of birds, mammals, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates. Throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, riparian habitat has been lost and degraded for a variety of reasons including the introduction of exotic species, channelization of streams, and urbanization of watersheds. Altered precipitation patterns associated with climate change may further degrade riparian areas.

The San Francisco Network Inventory and Monitoring Program (SFAN) is tracking changes in riparian habitat in one network park unit: Pinnacles National Park, in the Gabilan Mountains east of Monterey, California. Within the park, riparian areas support a high diversity of native flora and fauna including four species of native oaks, the three-spined stickleback fish, and the federally-threatened California red-legged frog. The introduction and spread of non-native invasive plants, changes in temperature and precipitation regimes, and tectonic activity (which may alter the size and complexity of riparian habitats) pose the greatest risks for the park's wetlands. Other possible stressors include upstream changes in land use via water extraction, water contamination, deposition of air-borne pollution, and introduction and spread of invasive non-native plants and animals.

SFAN is monitoring changes in stream channel characteristics and vegetation species composition in order to provide an early warning of riparian habitat change. This early warning will allow park managers to target resources that need protection and launch additional studies, if necessary. Monitoring data will provide park managers with information about changes in habitats and surface and near-surface water availability that are critical to park plants and animals.

Additional information about riparian habitat monitoring in SFAN parks can be found on the San Francisco Bay Area National Parks Science and Learning Center webpage on wetlands and estuaries.

⇑ To Top of Page

Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Contact Webmaster