Sonoran & Chihuahuan Deserts Uplands Monitoring

Project Type:  Monitoring
Project Status:  Ongoing

Vegetation and soils monitoring by the National Park Service (NPS) Sonoran Desert and Chihuahuan Desert networks supports a comprehensive understanding of terrestrial ecosystems and integrates seven “vital signs,” or ecological indicators: vegetation community dynamics, vegetation lifeform abundance, exotic plant species–status and trends, exotic plant species–early detection, biological soil crusts, soil aggregate stability, and soil cover. This integrated approach recognizes that complex ecosystems cannot be fully understood by studying their individual pieces, because when considered in aggregate, those systems are “greater than the sum of their parts.” While still providing individual answers about the condition of specific vital signs, our approach to monitoring vegetation and soils is based on this holistic paradigm.