National Park Service

Southwest Alaska Network (SWAN)


NPS staff monitoring water at Lake Clark
NPS staff monitoring water at Lake Clark

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 SWAN 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.

Vital Signs Category Vital Sign Monitoring Protocol Status
Freshwater Flow Systems Surface Hydrology Complete
Freshwater Chemistry Complete
Resident Lake Fish In progress
Salmon In progress
Landscape Dynamics and Terrestrial Vegetation Glacier Extent Complete
Landscape Processes In progress
Repeat Photography In progress
Vegetation Composition & Structure Complete
Sensitive Vegetation Communities Complete
Insect Outbreaks In progress
Marine Nearshore Sea Otter Complete
Kelp & Eelgrass Complete
Marine Intertidal Invertebrates Complete
Marine Birds Complete
Black Oystercatcher Complete
Geomorphic Coastal Change Complete
Marine Water Chemistry Complete
Harbor Seal Complete
Terrestrial Animals Brown Bears Complete
Moose In progress
Caribou On hold
Bald Eagle In progress
Weather, Climate, & Air Quality Weather & Climate Complete
Air Quality Complete

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Last Updated: February 07, 2017 Contact Webmaster