Biological diversity: discovery, science, and management in this issue

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Synthetic biology, data management, health benefits of biodiversity, and other features

Bioblitz science and outreach

All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventories

Surveying for nonvascular plants and invertebrates, including pollinators

Cultural sites and biodiversity

[Photos on page]

Background image of hiker in a fall landscape of red-, orange-, and yellow-colored vegetation including lichens. Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska. Credit: NPS/Kate Cullen

Dragonfly larvae sampling, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Credit: Cherokee Central Schools

Bioblitz participant holding salamander, Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River. Credit: Roy Morsch

Southern pygmy clubtail dragonfly, Catoctin Mountain Park. Credit: Richard Orr

Lichen researchers, Katmai National Park and Preserve. Credit: NPS/James Walton

All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory scientists, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Credit: Discover Life in America

Sorting pollinators, Denali National Park. Credit: Sheila Colwell

Boreal felt lichen, a globally endangered species, at Katmai National Park and Preserve. Credit: NPS/James Walton


Integrating Research and Resource Management in the National Parks

Volume 31 • Number 1 • Special Issue 2014
ISSN 0735–9462

Published by

U.S. Department of the Interior

National Park Service
Natural Resource Stewardship and Science
Office of Education and Outreach
Lakewood, Colorado

Director, National Park Service

Jon Jarvis

Associate Director, Natural Resource Stewardship and Science

Raymond Sauvajot

Editor and Layout

Jeff Selleck


Lori D. Kranz (contractor)

Editorial board

John Dennis—Deputy Chief Scientist, Natural Resource Stewardship and Science

Charles Roman—NPS Research Coordinator, North Atlantic Coast Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit, University of Rhode Island

Editorial office

Jeff Selleck

National Park Service
P.O. Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287


Phone: 303-969-2147
Fax: 303-987-6704

Sample style for article citation

Leong, K. M., and G. T. Kyle. 2014. Engaging park stewards through biodiversity discovery: Social outcomes of participation in bioblitzes. Park Science 31(1):106–111.

Printed on recycled paper.

Park Science is a research and resource management journal of the U.S. National Park Service. It reports the implications of recent and ongoing natural and social science and related cultural research for park planning, management, and policy. Seasonal issues are published usually in spring and fall, with a thematic issue that explores a topic in depth published in summer or winter. The publication serves a broad audience of national park and protected area managers and scientists and provides for public outreach. It is funded by the Associate Director for Natural Resource Stewardship and Science.

Articles are field-oriented accounts of applied research and resource management presented in nontechnical language. The editor and board or subject-matter experts review content for clarity, completeness, usefulness, scientific and technical soundness, and relevance to NPS policy.

Facts and views expressed in Park Science are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect opinions or policies of the National Park Service. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation for use by the National Park Service. Article inquiries, submissions, and comments should be directed to the editor by e-mail. Letters addressing scientific or factual content are welcome and may be edited for length, clarity, and tone.

Park Science is published online at (ISSN 1090-9966). The Web site provides guidelines for article submission, an editorial style guide, an archive and key word searching of all articles, and subscription management.

Though subscriptions are offered free of charge, voluntary donations help defray production costs. A typical donation is $15 per year. Checks should be made payable to the National Park Service and sent to the editorial office address.


A large part of the story of biodiversity is told in images sharing the excitement of discovery, documenting expert study, and detailing organisms that distinguish natural environments in the national parks.


Background: Fall landscape, Bering Land Bridge National Preserve

Insets (top to bottom, left to right): Dragonfly larvae sampling, Great Smoky Mountains National Park


Salamander (Plethodon glutinosus) and bioblitz participant, Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River


Southern pygmy clubtail (Lanthus vernalis), Catoctin Mountain Park


Lichen researchers, Katmai National Park and Preserve


All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory scientists, Great Smoky Mountains National Park


Sorting pollinators, Denali National Park and Preserve


Boreal felt lichen, a globally endangered species, Katmai National Park and Preserve



Photo of boy sitting on a rock adjacent to woods and looking at a clipboard. Corresponds with article on page 24. Credit: Olmstead National Historic Site/Joel Veak

Two individuals lying face down on a flat rock adjacent to a desert pond reach into the water to sample invertebrates at Saguaro National Park. Corresponds with article on page 37. Credit: NPS photo

Two individuals standing in a shallow stream sample for water mites. Corresponds with article on page 47. Credit: NPS Heartland Network/Hope Dodd

Photo of Marc Albert, Stewardship Program Director at Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, on a boat in transit to work at the park. Corresponds with article on page 50. Credit: Aya Rothwell

A herd of caribou graze a fall landscape at Noatak National Preserve, Alaska. Corresponds with article on page 62. Credit: NPS photo

Mason bee (Dianthidium simile), collected from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan. Corresponds with article on page 84. Credit: USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

Northern bobwhite quail at Manassas National Battlefield Park. Corresponds with article on page 98. Credit: NPS photo/Bryan Gorsira

A black bear scratches its back on a tree in Chiricahua National Monument, New Mexico. Corresponds with article on page 104. Credit: NPS photo

Columbia spotted frog. Corresponds with article on page 112. Credit: USGS/R. K. Honeycutt


From the Editor
Seek, any you will find / 2

A bold strategy for biodiversity conservation / 6

Getting Started
The language of biodiversity: A glossary / 8
Recommended readings in biodiversity / 9

National Parks and Biodiversity Discovery
Introduction / 11
Map / 12
Map supplement* / Online

*See for a four page listing of the biodiversity discovery activities summarized on the map.

Notes from Abroad
Restoring biodiversity in Ireland’s national parks / 120


Biodiversity and national parks: What’s relevance got to do with it? / 14

By Glenn Plumb, Edward O. Wilson, Sally Plumb, and Paula J. Ehrlich

Ben Clark, Biodiversity Youth Ambassador / 17

By Sally Plumb

Inventory and monitoring of park biodiversity / 18

By William Monahan and Kirsten Gallo

Data management for National Park Service–National Geographic Society BioBlitzes / 20

By Peter Budde and Simon Kingston

Benefits of biodiversity to human health and well-being / 24

By Danielle Buttke, Diana Allen, and Chuck Higgins

IUCN World Parks Conference to address values and benefits of biodiversity / 29

By Diana Allen

Synthetic biology offers extraordinary opportunities and challenges for conservation / 30

By Kent H. Redford

Synthetic biology and NPS policy / 33

By John G. Dennis


Engaging citizens on a large scale in biodiversity discovery / 34

By Sally Plumb

Saguaro National Park 2011 NPS-NGS BioBlitz! / 37

By Natasha Kline and Don Swann

The bioblitz: Good science, good outreach, good fun / 39

– Acadia National Park bioblitz program / 40
– Wild in the city: Minnesota bioblitz events at Mississippi National River and Recreation Area / 42
– Sampling understudied taxa in Great Basin National Park / 44
By Gretchen M. Baker, Nancy Duncan, Ted Gostomski, Margaret A. Horner, and David Manski

Bioblitz Profiles / 46

– Ocmulgee National Monument Butterfly Bioblitz / 46
– George Washington Carver Bioblitz / 47
– Upper Delaware Bioblitz / 48


Perspectives on the ATBI / 50

– Interview with Marc Albert, Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area / 50
– Interview with Todd Witcher, Discover Life in America / 54
By the Editor

The George Washington Memorial Parkway All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory: Finding new species near the nation’s capital / 58

By Brent W. Steury


Moving beyond the minimum: The addition of nonvascular plant inventories to vegetation research in Alaska’s national parks / 62

By James Walton and Sarah Stehn

All along the watchtower: Larval dragonflies are promising biological sentinels for monitoring methylmercury contamination / 70

By Roger J. Haro

The Call to Action Collect Dragonflies / 74

By Colleen Flanagan Pritz, Sarah Nelson, and Collin Eagles-Smith

Local experts identify insect biodiversity in Catoctin Mountain Park / 78

By Becky Loncosky

The Crayfish Corps / 81

By Amy Ruhe


Pollinators in peril? A multipark approach to evaluating bee communities in habitats vulnerable to effects from climate change / 84

By Jessica Rykken, Ann Rodman, Sam Droege, and Ralph Grundel

Great Lakes Pollinators / 88

By Jessica Rykken, Ann Rodman, Sam Droege, and Ralph Grundel

Insect pollinators of Denali: A survey of bees and flower flies / 91

By Jessica Rykken

Monitoring bee diversity and abundance in Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area: A pilot study / 92

By Jessica Rykken


Biodiversity inventories and the advent of a volunteer-based natural resource management program at Wolf Trap / 94

By Christopher Schuster

Bird diversity reflects battlefield park’s natural setting / 98

By Bryan Gorsira

Biodiversity discovery: Exploring arthropods in two NPS national monuments / 99

By Jennifer Leasor, Amy Muraca, Rijk Moräwe, and Neil Cobb


Cameras and cell phones at the bioblitz / 102

By the Editor

Vermont Atlas of Life Field Days / 102

By Kyle Jones

Camera-trap surveys in the southeastern Arizona national parks / 104

By Jason Mateljak

Mammal diversity monitoring in Saguaro National Park, Arizona / 105

By Don Swann

Camera traps for monitoring biodiversity / 105

By Don Swann


Engaging park stewards through biodiversity discovery: Social outcomes of participation in bioblitzes / 106

By Kirsten M. Leong and Gerard T. Kyle

Using monitoring data to map amphibian breeding hotspots and describe wetland vulnerability in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks / 112

By Andrew Ray, Adam Sepulveda, Blake Hossack, Debra Patla, and Kristin Legg

Environmental DNA: Can it improve our understanding of biodiversity on NPS lands? / 118

By Andrew Ray, Adam Sepulveda, Blake Hossack, Debra Patla, and Kristin Legg

Winter 2014–2015

Seasonal issue. March release.
Contributor’s deadline: 15 November

Spring 2015

Seasonal issue. June release.
Contributor’s deadline: 15 February

Visit for author guidelines or contact the editor ( or 303-969-2147) to discuss proposals and needs for upcoming issues.


• Complete catalog of articles and back issues

• Key word searching

• Author guidelines

• Editorial style guide

• Share comments on articles with the author(s)

• Manage your subscription


Seek, and you will find

This insightful message has guided people on life’s journey for millennia, and more recently it has undoubtedly led visitors to national parks in search of restoration, health, and well-being. It is also relevant to the study of biological diversity, the theme of this issue of park science and a subject of great importance to the future of national parks.

All life-forms, from the smallest virus to the largest marine mammal, help define, regulate, and maintain park ecosystems. Understanding the functions of these organisms—the roles they play in the production of soils, provisioning of water, storage and recycling of nutrients, breakdown of pollution, and many other ecological services—is at the core of our task in the National Park Service to preserve parks unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

The story of biodiversity in national parks is part discovery, part science, and part management, and we touch on all three areas in this issue. A series of articles describes the trend in parks to conduct activities devoted to the discovery of biodiversity. When we commit time and resources to the search for life, we find species that are new to parks and new to science, and we deepen our understanding of familiar species. How we manage the information that comes from this endeavor and incorporate it into park decision making is equally important and is also discussed in several articles.

Much of the science related to biodiversity study is the same today as it has been traditionally, though the pool of taxonomists we rely on to make identifications is shrinking. Additionally, our focus has shifted to invertebrates, nonvascular plants, and other less studied taxa and how we organize our fieldwork, subjects we explore in several articles. Techniques for collecting, processing, and documenting species and communicating about biodiversity are progressing with the help of academic and conservation partners and volunteers. Data analysis now makes it possible to predict locations for species of conservation interest, and synthetic biology has emerged as a means to create novel yet likely controversial alternatives to remedy species restoration and control problems.

In total we share more than 40 articles describing work to explore, understand, and integrate knowledge of biological diversity in national parks. I invite you to read the stories, weigh our progress, and contemplate next steps. You may even find something of value that you didn’t know you were looking for.

—Jeff Selleck, Editor

A bold strategy for biodiversity conservation

By Elaine F. Leslie

Scientists know we must protect species because they are working parts of our life-support system.

—Paul Ehrlich

As we edge closer to the centennial of the National Park Service (NPS) in 2016, there is much to celebrate—science and stewardship have a far more prominent role in park management than at any time in NPS history—yet there is reason for concern. The diversity of native species, including the genetic material they contain, the natural processes with which they are critically intertwined, and the corridors by way of which they move, are declining at a historically unprecedented rate. We are losing our national natural heritage—its species richness, role and function, and the beauty and cultural connection a biodiverse landscape provides in our environment. We must acknowledge that biodiversity not only is at the foundation of our health and well-being, but also that there are cultural and historical relationships to the biological connection that we just cannot afford to lose. We must act.

National parks and other protected areas are critical preserves of biodiversity in the face of increasing global changes; however, they tend to be managed largely as isolated islands within boundaries of human construct. Scientific consensus cautions that land managers plan for extensively connected ecosystems across broad spaces and that we ensure the restoration of those ecosystems and their keystone species. Given the alarming rate at which we are losing biodiverse ecosystems and the services they provide, we must step up our conservation efforts by increasing the number and size of protected natural areas where feasible and improving coordination among already designated protected areas such as our national parks and refuges. As biodiversity is also a potent frontier for discovery, we must tend to its welfare through the knowledge that comes from ongoing research and then apply it to our restoration and conservation efforts. The National Park Service, therefore, is committed to playing a leadership role in a strategy that will benefit biodiversity conservation across the national land scape, inclusive of local benefits at the park and community level.

In taking this national approach, the National Park Service hopes to cultivate and nurture a support network—a community of practice—among our employees, our park neighbors, our partners, and the American public. This will encourage parks to fully develop their capabilities, to learn from each other’s experiences and expertise, work out best practices for biodiversity conservation and stewardship, ensure the collection and use of high-quality data, and coordinate information management and sharing. Ultimately, this approach will magnify and leverage the returns of individual parks’ efforts, while incorporating this approach into our daily and long-term planning efforts.

For these activities to be successful, the education, interpretation, science, and curatorial communities must also work together to provide support, share their expertise, and leverage funds from local, regional, national, and international partners. In particular, we need to develop persuasive and compelling awareness messages that help us all to better understand the importance of biodiversity and to encourage the conserving of the integral components of Earth’s biological portfolio—those that affect our daily lives in the food we eat and the clothes we wear. The messages should strive to engage the American public to protect and conserve biodiversity not just in parks, but also in their own backyards because they want to, not because they have to.

No framework for biodiversity steward ship would be successful if it were not also sustainable. Climate change issues must be considered and we must ensure the sustainable use of ecosystems and their biodiversity not only within our parks, but beyond our park boundaries.

Implementing such a strategy is ambitious to be sure. It must engage our youth, needs to be scientifically credible, and has to be simply yet passionately communicated. Our goal is for diverse ecological communities to persevere even when a species is lost to a disturbance and upsets the continuity of a living network or ecosystem. The system will be able to survive because the more complex it is and the more interconnectedness it has, the more resilient it will be.

Over the past decade the National Park Service has invested substantially in Service-wide and park capacity building for biodiversity conservation and discovery through multiple programs. These include the National Park Service–National Geographic Society annual “BioBlitzes,” the activities of the Inventory and Monitoring Program, and the more than 100 parks that have held biodiversity and citizen science events over the course of the last two years through the Director’s Call to Action initiative.

Across the United States, biodiversity awareness is becoming a common framework for community education and action. The National Park Service is perfectly positioned to build upon this leadership role to further develop the capacity for a wide array of federal science, stewardship, education and outreach, and expanded partnerships toward a national ethic of biodiversity conservation. This is an inclusive and integrative approach to community and park relationships and engagement on this issue.

Advancing conservation while ensuring that past investments in park research and resource management stay potent requires synergies far beyond those that exist currently in the Service or even the United States. We need to transform nature conservation altogether. Postage stamp protection must be replaced by a whole systems approach—continental conservation—with its inherent focus on landscape-level connectivity and the health and diversity of species. Through a coordinated approach at this broad scale, no matter where our national parks and protected areas dot the world map, together we can ensure that our work bestows healthy, vital components upon our national natural heritage and legacy, with biological integrity remaining intact for future generations. It starts with one park at a time, thinking big, acting boldly.

These are reasons to celebrate!

About the author

Elaine F. Leslie is chief of the NPS Biological Resource Management Division in Fort Collins, Colorado. The division has the responsibility of providing technical expertise to parks in support of the management and protection of native species and related ecological processes throughout the National Park System. She can be reached at


The language of biodiversity: A glossary

Consolidated from several sources by Greg Eckert and Glenn E. Plumb

As described in this issue of Park Science, national parks undertake many different kinds of biodiversity discovery and conservation activities that bring together various public groups, such as professionals and students from the formal education and science sectors; representatives from local, state, tribal, and federal governments and agencies; nongovernment organizations, including the private for-profit and not-for-profit sectors; and the overall citizenry. An aspiration of this undertaking is developing a common shared comprehension of and passion for biodiversity discovery and conservation. For most people, learning a new language is indeed challenging, though personal experience and passion can engender conditions of flexibility conducive to absorption of new words, syntax, and meaning. Knowing even a few words of a new language can be meaningful for eventual linguistic fluency. The following terms, used in this edition, and short descriptions are but an illustrative share of the exciting and powerful language of biodiversity!

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