Ecosystem Management : Inventory and Monitoring (Parks Canada)

Posted January 30, 2010 | Categories : Ecological Monitoring,Management |

We have selected portions of the following web source .

See that page for the full account with photographs.


See also the Report of the Panel on the Ecological Integrity of Canda’s national parks:


Canada’s national parks provide a home for many plants and animals – from lilies to majestic forests, and from insects to grizzly bears. An important challenge for parks Canada is to know what plants and animals occur in a given park, what ecosystems they use, and how these species and ecosystems are changing over time.

We have selected portions of the following web source .

Park inventories tell us what kind of plants and animals we have, and for some species, about how many we have. In the same way that animals and plants can be classified into species, park ecosystems can be classified into ecosystem types. For example, wetlands, forests, grasslands, and arctic tundra are examples of park ecosystem types that we can identify and inventory by mapping.

In addition to knowing how many kinds of plants, animals, and ecosystems we have, we also need to know how the number or health of park species or ecosystems are changing over time – this is the job of monitoring.

This section of the Parks Canada internet site outlines the inventory and monitoring activities that we carry out in National Parks.


The EI Monitoring Framework

The EI monitoring framework was developed by Parks Canada to provide a conservation science context for comprehensive EI monitoring and reporting in national parks. The EI monitoring framework divides park ecological integrity into two components – plant and animal diversity, and ecosystem processes. The framework also identifies categories that describe the principal stressors that affect park ecosystems.

Assessing Ecological Integrity
(characteristic of region)
Ecosystem Functions
(resilient, evolutionary potential)
(unimpaired system)
Species richness
– change in species richness
– numbers and extent of exoticsPopulation dynamics
– mortality/natility rates of indicator species
– Imigration/ emigration of indicator species
– population viability of indicator species

Trophic structure
– size class distribution of all taxa
– predation levels

Succession/ retrogression
– disturbance frequencies and size (fire. insects, flooding)
– vegetation age class distributionsProductivity
– Remote or by site

-by site

Nutrient retention
– Ca, N par site

Human land-use patterns
– land use maps, roads densities, population densities.Habitat fragmentation
– patch size, inter-patch distance, forest interior*

– sewage, petrochemicals etc.
– long-range transport of toxics

– weather data
– frequency of extreme events

– park specific issues


Changing the Way we Monitor Park EI

Number of monitoring projects by category for the Atlantic parks - A survey of monitoring projects in the Atlantic parks showed that the main areas for monitoring were: Reptiles/Amphibians, Fish/Aquatics, Mammals, Vegetation Biodiversity, Natural Stressors, Human Impacts, Geoindicators and Birds.  Birds are the most studied indicator in Atlantic National Parks, with over 45 monitoring projects focusing on them. Vegetation Biodiversity and Fish/Aquatics follow closely behind with 35 and 25 projects respectively.  Reptiles/Amphibians have the least number of monitoring projects dedicated to them, with only 8 projects
Number of monitoring projects by category for the Atlantic parks
© Parks Canada

A major task for each park will be to adjust their present EI monitoring programs to ensure that revised monitoring programs can report on specific management activities, and on the whole park ecosystem, as dictated by management objectives and outlined by the EI monitoring framework. This process is underway through a national survey summarizing all monitoring presently occurring in national parks. A pilot survey in Atlantic parks indicated that considerable monitoring is occurring, but is focussed primarily on monitoring animal populations.


A major challenge for each park will be to develop core- monitoring indicators that are relevant for a park, but can be summarized regionally and nationally. The monitoring and reporting of the ecological integrity at park-level and national levels can be visualized as a monitoring pyramid.

The Parks Canada Ecological Integrity Monitoring Pyramid - The national monitoring program will be organised so that monitoring information is collected at national, bioregional and park scales.  The monitoring information at the national and regional levels will flow down to the parks to report on park-level ecological integrity.  The park and regional monitoring data will also flow up, for reporting at a national scale
The Parks Canada Ecological Integrity Monitoring Pyramid
© Parks Canada / 2003

Another major challenge of the program will be to develop new approaches to synthesizing and presenting complex ecological information into a format useful for park management, and for communicating to Canadians on the condition of national parks.