National Park Service

Sierra Nevada Network (SIEN)

Inventory & Monitoring at
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

Giant sequoias in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. Photo by Nate Stephenson.
Giant sequoias in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. Photo by Nate Stephenson.
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SIEN park map
Location of Sequoia & Kings Canyon NPs in the Sierra Nevada Network. Click for larger image.

These two predominantly Wilderness parks lie side by side in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of the San Joaquin Valley. Elevations range from 1,370 feet (418 meters) in the foothills to 14,494 feet (4,421 meters) at the top of Mount Whitney, resulting in tremendous landscape diversity. The parks are noted for their giant sequoias, high peaks and alpine areas, deep canyons, vast caves, numerous lakes, streams, and wetlands, and a high diversity of plants and animals.

At Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the Sierra Nevada Network monitors birds, high-elevation forests, lakes, river hydrology, and wetlands, and does climate reporting using existing meteorological stations where data are collected primarily by park staff. SIEN also funded numerous biological inventories of vascular plants and vertebrate animals in Sequoia and Kings Canyon between 2001–2005, and more information is available under the Inventory Briefs and Inventory Reports tabs near the top of this page.

Highlights from Five Years of Lake Monitoring

Sierra Nevada Network field crews, supervised by Physical Scientist Andi Heard, have hiked all over Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks during the 2008–2012 field seasons, collecting water chemistry and amphibian data from remote wilderness lakes. A total of 48 lakes have been sampled in these parks, and an additional 28 were monitored in Yosemite National Park. A report has been completed that summarizes the 2008–2009 lake water chemistry data (Heard 2012).

Filtering water samples at a Kings Canyon National Park lake. Filtering water samples at a Kings Canyon National Park lake. Photo by Lyndsay Belt.

One finding from these first two years of monitoring is that nitrate concentrations were higher in Sequoia and Kings Canyon lakes than in Yosemite lakes. While nitrogen is an important nutrient for plant growth and is an essential component of proteins, too much nitrogen can cause problems in natural systems. In Sierra Nevada lakes, excess nitrogen can lead to increased growth and abundance of plants and other organisms and a shift from lower to higher productivity; it may cause a cascading set of yet unknown effects both in lakes and surrounding ecosystems.

The primary human sources of excess nitrogen are from transportation, agriculture, and industry. It is deposited through both wet deposition (precipitation) and dry deposition (particulates in air that come in contact with and are deposited on the landscape). The higher nitrate concentrations in Sequoia and Kings Canyon may be due to the higher deposition rates of nitrogen in these parks compared to Yosemite. Air patterns in California's southern Central Valley tend to concentrate pollutants in areas west of and up into Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Continued monitoring of these lakes will provide enough data to analyze trends or changes in concentrations of nutrients and other water chemistry measures over time.

References Cited

  • Heard, A. M. 2012. Sierra Nevada Network lake monitoring 2008 and 2009 summary report. Natural Resource Data Series NPS/SIEN/NRDS–2012/357. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.

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Park Species Lists

Select a Species Category (optional):

What's the difference?

A Checklist contains only those species that are designated as "present" or "probably present" in the park.

The Full List with Details includes all the Checklist species plus species that are unconfirmed, historically detected, or incorrectly reported in the park. The Full List also contains species that are "in review" because their status in the park hasn't been fully determined. Additional details about the status of each species is included in the Full List.

The Checklist will almost always contain fewer species than the Full List.

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Search All Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks Publications

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Sierra Nevada Network Program Brief

Briefs

Bird Monitoring (Expand panel)
Climate Monitoring (Expand panel)
High-elevation Forest Monitoring (Expand panel)
Lake Monitoring (Expand panel)
Landscape Dynamics (Expand panel)
River Monitoring (Expand panel)
Wetlands Monitoring (Expand panel)
Inventory Briefs (Expand panel)

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Inventory Reports

Biological Inventories - Animals (Expand panel)
Biological Inventories - Plants (Expand panel)
Climate (Expand panel)
Soils (Expand panel)
Wetlands (Expand panel)
Baseline Water Quality (Expand panel)

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Monitoring Reports

Birds (Expand panel)
Climate Reporting (Expand panel)
High-elevation Forests (Expand panel)
Lakes (Expand panel)
Landscape Dynamics (Expand panel)
Rivers (Expand panel)
Wetlands (Expand panel)

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Protocols

Birds (Expand panel)
Climate Reporting (Expand panel)
High-elevation Forests (Expand panel)
Lakes (Expand panel)
Rivers (Expand panel)
Wetlands (Expand panel)


Last Updated: March 17, 2017 Contact Webmaster