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Monitoring Ecological Resources within U.S. National Parks: Developing "Vital Signs" of Ecological Integrity for the Northeast Temperate NetworkAuthor(s): Don Faber-Langendoen; Geraldine Tierney; James Gibbs; Greg Shriver; Fred Dieffenbach; Pam Lombard
Source: In: Aguirre-Bravo, C.; Pellicane, Patrick J.; Burns, Denver P.; and Draggan, Sidney, Eds. 2006. Monitoring Science and Technology Symposium: Unifying Knowledge for Sustainability in the Western Hemisphere Proceedings RMRS-P-42CD. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 614-622
Publication Series: Proceedings (P)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
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DescriptionThe National Park Service (NPS) initiated a new “Vital Signs” program in 1998 to develop comprehensive, long-term monitoring of ecological resources within U.S. national parks. Vital signs (VS) are indicators, and are defined as key elements, processes or features of the environment that can be measured or estimated and that indicate the ecological integrity of an ecosystem. A core science team is working with the 11 parks of the Northeast Temperate Network (NETN) to identify appropriate regional and park-specific indicators of ecological integrity, and to develop criteria for assessing changes. The team identified VS representing the diversity of ecological systems and anthropogenic stressors within NETN parks at a range of ecological scales. In Phase 1, baseline inventories and analysis of threats provided information to build conceptual ecological models for four ecosystem groups -- terrestrial, wetland, aquatic, and intertidal systems. In Phase 2, the core science team developed a list of more than 100 potential VS. This preliminary list was peer-reviewed through workshops, from which a final list of 22 high priority VS, with 104 associated potential measures, was developed. In Phase 3, protocols will be developed for each VS measure. Statistical power analysis and cost assessment will be an integral part of Phase 3 in order that the final set of measured VS produce reliable inference within cost constraints of NETN. Standard summaries of statistical trends in VS measures will be compiled. Importantly, each measure will also have a rating scheme to allow integration of VS into an overall ecological integrity rank (A-D) for particular occurrences of an ecosystem. These ranks, currently used by NatureServe and the Network of Natural Heritage Programs, provide an important communication tool for managers. An example is presented for jack pine woodland in Acadia National Park.
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CitationFaber-Langendoen, Don; Tierney, Geraldine; Gibbs, James; Shriver, Greg; Dieffenbach, Fred; Lombard, Pam. 2006. Monitoring Ecological Resources within U.S. National Parks: Developing "Vital Signs" of Ecological Integrity for the Northeast Temperate Network. In: Aguirre-Bravo, C.; Pellicane, Patrick J.; Burns, Denver P.; and Draggan, Sidney, Eds. 2006. Monitoring Science and Technology Symposium: Unifying Knowledge for Sustainability in the Western Hemisphere Proceedings RMRS-P-42CD. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 614-622
Keywordsmonitoring, assessment, sustainability, Western Hemisphere, sustainable management, ecosystem resources, “Vital Signs” program, indicators, Northeast Temperate Network
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