Scientific research is key to protecting the natural and cultural wonders of our national parks. To make sound decisions, park managers need accurate information about the resources in their care. They also need to know how park ecosystems change over time, and what amount of change is normal. But park staff can’t do it alone.
Like a physician monitoring a patient's heartbeat and blood pressure, scientists with the Northern Colorado Plateau Network collect long-term data on Cedar Breaks’ “vital signs.” They monitor key resources, like plant communities, soils, and the quality and quantity of water. Then they analyze the results and report them to park managers. Knowing how key resources are changing can provide managers with early warning of potential problems. It can also help them to make better decisions and plan more effectively.
Studying park vital signs is only part of the picture. Scientific research is also conducted by park staff, graduate students, and independent researchers. Because many parks prohibit activities that occur elsewhere, scientists can use the parks as "control" areas for determining the effects of these activities where they do occur. Especially in the American West, national park lands often serve as the best model for what a relatively undisturbed landscape looks like.
Parks Species List
Last updated: November 15, 2021