Research Tools

The Learning Center of the American Southwest (LCAS) was developed to encourage scientific information sharing, facilitate research efforts, and provide opportunities for the public to learn about national parks. National Park Service (NPS) units and other protected areas provide unique opportunities for scientific research because these areas are preserved and protected, and can be studied as reference points for comparisons with similar, altered environments. Research contributes to the understanding of the American Southwest’s natural and cultural resources and is used for planning, management, and sharing with partners and the public. Below is a collection of useful links for anyone engaging in research in the parks:

Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units (CESU) Network - CESU's are biogeographic regional units that bring together scientists, resource managers, students, and other conservation professionals, to provide research, technical assistance, and education to federal land management, environmental, and research agencies and their partners, such as NPS and LCAS. In other words much research done in LCAS parks is done through CESU partnerships. The three LCAS partner CESU's are the Desert Southwest CESU, the Rocky Mountains CESU, and the Colorado Plateau CESU.

National Park Service Research Permit and Reporting System - Information about research needs, obtaining research permits, and logistics is available here. Investigator Annual Reports for past and present issued permits are also available for browsing.

Integrated Resource Management Applications (IRMA) Portal - The IRMA portal hosts applications such as the NPS Data Store, a repository of documents, publications, and data sets that relate to NPS resources, and NPSpecies, a tool that documents the occurrence and status of species in national parks.  Park Visitor Use Statistics, a source for data, reports, and statistics on visitor use of national parks, and Inventory and Monitoring tracking applications are among the other applications available.

Natural Resource Publications Management (NRPM) - This page contains information about each of the National Park Service report series.

NPS Focus - NPS Focus is a digital library and research station containing a growing collection of images, documents, drawings and maps about the cultural and natural resources maintained by the National Park Service.

NPS Voyager - NPS Voyager is a tool for finding physical National Park Service libraries and searching their contents.

NPS Museum Collections - A growing catalog of National Park Service museum collections representing archeology; ethnology; history (including art and archives); biology; paleontology and geology.

NPS Digital Image Archives - If you're looking for images of national parks, monuments, battlefields and historic sites, you'll find them here.

NPS Geographic Information Systems (GIS) - National Park Service GIS information, data, applications and educational materials are available here.