Designing a long-term ecological monitoring program in the northeastern US: Sampling design and protocols for the National Park Services Northeastern Temperate Network.
Tierney, Geraldine*,1, Shriver, Greg2, Faber-Langendoen, Don3, Gibbs, James1, Lombard, Pamela4, 1 SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry, Syracuse, NY2 National Park Service, Woodstock, VT3 NatureServe, Syracuse, NY4 US Geological Survey, Augusta, ME
ABSTRACT- The National Park Services Vital Signs Monitoring Program was created in 2001 to improve assessment of the condition of ecological resources within US National Parks. Under this program, 270 parks organized into 32 networks are working to identify appropriate Vital signs or indicators of ecological condition, and to build long-term monitoring programs which will track and report status and trends of these Vital signs. This program seeks to integrate across spatial scales (biological, ecological, landscape) and across relevant disciplines (terrestrial ecology, aquatic ecology, wetland ecology, population ecology, landscape ecology, biogeochemistry, etc.). The Northeastern Temperate Network (NETN), comprised of 11 northeastern forested parks including Acadia, is currently in Phase 3 of this process – we have identified 23 Vital signs of ecological condition most relevant to these parks and are now developing a sampling design and protocols for long-term monitoring. In order to optimize fundamental trade-offs between the extent and intensity of sampling, we are developing two-tier protocols which nest a subset of intensively studied plots within a larger spatial network of rapidly assessed plots. In forested ecosystems, a rapid tier is designed to assess stand structure and tree composition, regeneration and mortality, and to detect the presence of specific pests, pathogens and invasive exotic species at an extensive network of sites within all NETN forested parks. An intensive tier is designed to more intensively sample and assess understory and herbaceous diversity, tree condition, and the effects of specific stressors such as acidic deposition and deer herbivory.
Key words: Vital signs, indicators, ecological condition, forest
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