Did you know you could be using your phone to help study the exceptional biodiversity in Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
Join Discover Life in America (DLiA) Science and Research Director Will Kuhn on Friday, October 16, from 1 to 3 p.m. for a crash course on Species SnapIt & MapIt—a unique community science project that uses the iNaturalist app to help map life in the Smokies.
"I really enjoy searching for different animals and plants around the Smokies for our SnapIt project. It's a lot like Pokémon, really,” said Kuhn. “You end up wanting to find them all. I'm addicted to iNaturalist!"
DLiA draws on community science projects like SnapIt & MapIt and bioblitz events in and around the Smokies to help gather scientific data and catalog the park’s diversity of life as part of the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI). Data from the ATBI project feeds into an interactive map known as the Atlas of the Smokies available through the National Park Service website.
Since 1998, the ATBI has more than doubled the number of species known to Great Smoky Mountains National Park to reach 21,000, which is more documented species than any other US national park. ATBI data and species mapping helps researchers protect vulnerable species in the park and better understand threats to these populations such as invasive species, pollution, and climate change.
The upcoming Species SnapIt & MapIt talk is part of DLiA’s Science at Sugarlands series, a free family-friendly speaker series typically held once a month from May to October at Sugarlands Visitor Center. Each event features local scientists discussing the latest in Smokies-related research and often includes a guided nature walk, though, this year, the talks are being hosted virtually in light of COVID-19.
"I love hearing about the natural history of different organisms that live in the Smokies. The Science at Sugarlands talks are just fascinating,” said Kuhn. “I am really looking forward to sharing what I've learned about the biodiversity of the Smokies with our community and getting more folks interested in the SnapIt project."
Previous Science at Sugarlands talks featuring experts on topics ranging from lichens and wildfire ecology to Appalachian balds, dung beetles, bioluminescence, and more can be found online at dlia.org/sas/.
Find out more about community science projects, speaker series, and more at dlia.org/get-involved. Although Science at Sugarlands is a free event, attendees are encouraged to register at dlia.org/sas/.
Already using iNaturalist? Find and follow the Discover Life in America ATBI project to join in the effort in the Smokies!