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Science and the National Parks
term ecosystem research to assess air quality and long-term population monitoring of wildlife. Such efforts are especially necessary in large areas of relatively pristine wilderness such as the parks designated as Biosphere Reserves. The commitment to inventory and monitor resources must be expanded dramatically to become a major, continuing component of the NPS research program. Effective inventories can involve geographic information systems, remote sensing data, and other technology (including new technologies for information storage, processing, and management) to increase understanding of whole ecological systems.
To be useful, an information system should contain basic data about the location and extent of each parks principal biological, geological, hydrological, aesthetic, cultural, and historic resources. When park managers need additional information critical to carrying out the designated mission of a park, for example, to protect specific archaeological or cultural resources, monitoring data on those resources or human use impacts should be added to the system. The specific requirements for what is to be included in the system and protocols for its measurement should be developed and overseen by senior NPS scientists and resource managers to ensure national consistency, provide clear priorities for the most important needs, and ensure that the programs are of the greatest possible regional and park-specific use. Peer review should be a routine ingredient in these activities.
Research to Support Park Management Goals
National Park Service researchers should have more input into the development of resource management plans. Effective interaction between research results and resource management plans cannot take place without both a strong science program and a strong resource management program.
Research to support management of the parks typically addresses the identification, assessment, and mitigation of threats to park resources. Examples of management-oriented research include studies designed to gain understanding