While a large part of Elk Island National Park is forest, there are large patches of grassland ecosystems, particularly around the Bison Loop. Plains bison are vitally important to grasslands and create ideal conditions for plants and other animals to thrive on the plains. Bison grazing, trampling, wallowing, and defecating increases the biodiversity of both plants and animals in their wake. Because of these interdependent relationships, bison are critical to the story of both the loss and recovery of the Great Plains.
To determine the ecological health and integrity of grasslands, Park Ecologists and Geomatic Technicians work beside park field staff to monitor these five important ecological indicators;