Dry Tortugas National Park (DTNP)

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In general, describe how the nominated site addresses monitoring and evaluation

The NPS South Florida/Caribbean Network (SFCN) Vital Signs Monitoring Plan measures selected ecological indicators for trends in resource condition at DTNP. NPS defines a vital sign as a “subset of physical, chemical, and biological elements and processes of park ecosystems that are selected to represent the overall health or condition of park resources, known or hypothesized effects of stressors, or elements that have important human values.” See http://science.nature.nps.gov/im/units/sfcn/monitoring.cfm

What indicators are used to evaluate management effectiveness and conservation success, and the impact of the management plan on the local communities

Indicators by category Comments
Evaluation of management effectiveness
Evaluation of conservation measures on the status of species populations within and around protected area
Seabird Monitoring Ongoing seabird projects within DTNP include monitoring of Brown Noddy and Sooty Tern colonies with point-count methods, monitoring of Neotropical migrants by private parties, and direct counting of Brown Pelican, Masked Booby, and Magnificent Frigatebird colonies. A conceptual ecological model and draft monitoring plan have been developed for monitoring seabirds at DTNP and three other parks in the network to include: (1) monitoring colonies and nesting status of birds at historic long-term sites and (2) monitoring populations and distributions of wading birds at a regional scale.
Sea Turtle Monitoring Annual monitoring surveys of sea turtle nests were conducted between 1979?2003 by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Annual nesting surveys by DTNP have recorded activity since 2009.
Quantify changes Quantify changes in the abundance and size-structure of exploited species within the Research Natural Area (RNA) relative to adjacent areas.
Monitor Monitor the immigration and emigration of targeted species in the Research Natural Area (RNA)
Monitor changes Monitor changes in species composition and catch rates of exploited species throughout the surrounding region.
Assess reproductive potential Assess reproductive potential of exploited species by evaluating egg production and larval dispersal.
Evaluation of conservation measures on the status of habitats within and around the protected area
Coral Monitoring The SFCN is monitoring coral reef communities within DTNP to evaluate trends in key benthic community indicators. Randomly selected coral reef sites are monitored with a high-definition video camera to quantify trends in living coral by species, macroalgae, turf algae, crustose coralline algae, octocorals, and sponges. Additional field data are collected on coral disease, abundance of longspined sea urchins (an important algal grazer), stony coral species diversity, rugosity, and reef-depth water temperature. A wide range of coral monitoring activities is conducted by State of Florida, federal agencies and universities. These are described in Table 1.
Evaluate the effects Evaluate the effects of Research Natural Area (RNA)implementation on marine benthic biological Communities.
Evaluation of conservation measures on the status of ecological processes within and around the protected area
Evaluation of the impact of the management plan on the local communities
Incorporate social sciences Incorporate social sciences into the RNA science program.