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Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park Nature and Science

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks contain big trees, high peaks, and deep canyons, but the diversity goes far beyond that. Located in the southern Sierra Nevada range, the parks' elevations extend from 1,300 feet (418m) in the foothills to 14,491 feet (4,417m) at the summit of Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous 48 states. Plunging in the opposite direction far below the surface are over 200 marble caverns, many with endemic cave fauna. This huge variation in the landscape contributes to the collage of habitats that create a rich assemblage of terrestrial, aquatic and subterranean ecosystems.

Here one can observe a vast diversity of plants and animals representing an array of adaptations. Despite the protected status of resources within park boundaries, many threats to park resources exist. These include air pollutants, invasion by alien species, loss of natural fire regimes, habitat fragmentation, and rapid human-caused climatic change. The Division of Natural Resources strives to: Understand natural processes (such as fire) and human-induced effects on ecosystems (such as effects of air pollution). Mitigate for the existing and potential human effects on ecosystems (for example, restoring previously developed areas using re-vegetation, re-introducing fire to areas where it has been suppressed for decades).

Monitor for ongoing or future trends in key ecosystem components. Protect existing natural species, populations, communities, systems, and processes. Interpret these organisms, systems, and processes to park visitors and to visitor center staffs so they may provide current information to the public.

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Maine Puffins
Maine Puffins


Maine ocean islands provide the only nesting sites for Atlantic puffins in the United States. Eastern Egg Rock in the midcoast region, Seal Island and Matinicus Rock at the mouth of Penobscot Bay, and Machias Seal Island and Petit Manan Island off the downeast coast provide habitat for more than 4,000 puffins each summer.