National Park Service

South Florida/Caribbean I&M Network (SFCN)

Vital Signs Monitoring

A  diver films a benthic transect for coral research.
A diver films a benthic transect for coral research.

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 SFCN has identified a prioritized list of 44 vital signs and is developing protocols and field monitoring for 17 of them. Park staff, other government agencies, and NGOs already completely or partially monitor 33 vital signs. The SFCN works closely with these organizations to collaborate on ongoing monitoring activities across the network and report those vital signs. Some vital signs remain unfunded or only partially funded at this time.

Vital Signs Monitored by the SFCN and Our Partners

Vital Signs Category Monitored by SFCN
and Partners
Monitored by Partners Only and/or Deferred**
Air Quality
Geology & Soils
Hydrology
Invasive Species
Landscape Dynamics
Marine Communities & Wildlife
Terrestrial/Freshwater: Vegetation & Wildlife Monitoring
Threatened & Rare Species
Visitor Use
Water Quality

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Last Updated: March 27, 2017 Contact Webmaster