Smoky Mountains Wildlife & Biodiversity

  1. “Fishes” field guide dedicated to aquatic biodiversity of the Smokies

    “Fishes” field guide dedicated to aquatic biodiversity of the Smokies Great Smoky Mountains Association has published a new field guide dedicated to some of the aquatic residents of the Smokies. Intuitively organized and small enough to fit in a pocket, Fishes of the Smokies includes detailed photography and key details for each species featured.  Written by debut author Grant Fisher, Fishes of the Read more...
  2. Plant life makes a comeback after 2016 wildfires

    Plant life makes a comeback after 2016 wildfires By Alix Pfennigwerth A few days after the arson-caused 2016 Chimney Tops 2 wildfire spread across 11,000 acres of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Rob Klein, a National Park Service fire ecologist, hiked up the park’s Bull Head Trail. National Park Service fire ecologist Rob Klein discusses the impacts of the 2016 Read more...
  3. Photographer and parks shine a light on the magic of fireflies

    Photographer and parks shine a light on the magic of fireflies Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to large populations of synchronous fireflies, which create a magical spectacle that draws thousands of visitors each year. The park will host the annual synchronous firefly viewing opportunity at its popular Elkmont Campground June 3–10 this year, but there are many other places where this Read more...
  4. Echoes in the Mountains: The Next Generation

    Echoes in the Mountains: The Next Generation Images by Phoebe Carnes The early morning mist had just dissipated as the sun began to rise over the mountains. The Oconaluftee River was clear and cold, rejuvenated from a light shower the previous night. A cow watched me warily from the forest, ears up and nostrils twitching as she deciphered my scent. A fuzzy copper head peaked out from Read more...
  5. Reducing artificial light at night (ALAN) can save thousands of park bird species

    Reducing artificial light at night (ALAN) can save thousands of park bird species Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a vital part of the greater southern Appalachian region through which many bird species migrate to and from their breeding grounds in warmer climates. Birds traveling at night have used the stars for millennia to help them navigate safely to their destinations. But thousands of birds who regularly visit Read more...
  6. Taking a Walk Across Ancient Land

    Taking a Walk Across Ancient Land My boots make a crunching sound on the rocks. It’s a constant backdrop while hiking in the high country of the Smokies, except on those stretches of trail where I hit snow, ice, or leaves. The crunching has been an almost continuous background for my hikes in the Smokies over the decades.   More recently, I’ve been Read more...
  7. Echoes in the Mountains: A herd in sacred waters

    Echoes in the Mountains: A herd in sacred waters Images by Phoebe Carnes Before I began observing elk in Smokies, I never thought of them as water-loving creatures. But it wasn’t long before I learned that the elk here have a profound relationship with the Oconaluftee River that is as fascinating as it is multifaceted. Bull B takes a drink on a misty September morning in Read more...
  8. Northern River Otters Stage a Comeback

    Northern River Otters Stage a Comeback Intriguing, humorous, and stealthy, river otters are seldom seen. But after being gone for 50 years, they have reclaimed their place as denizens of the Southern Appalachians. “Otters make their homes in many watersheds in and around our mountain region and in Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” said Supervisory Wildlife Biologist Read more...
  9. Echoes in the Mountains: On Bulls and Close Encounters

    Echoes in the Mountains: On Bulls and Close Encounters Images by Phoebe Carnes When I first started studying the bull elk of Oconaluftee last fall, I quickly learned that each male is an individual. They each have their own quirks that make them easily recognizable. One of the first males I began to study was a bull who goes by the name of “B” within the park service. At nearly 14 Read more...
  10. Research Holds Key to Wildlife Crossing Success on I-40 in the Pigeon River Gorge

    Research Holds Key to Wildlife Crossing Success on I-40 in the Pigeon River Gorge On November 3, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) announced that when it begins to replace the Harmon Den bridge on Interstate 40 between Asheville and Knoxville later this month, a wildlife underpass will be included in the construction. Just 48 hours later, the House passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill including $ Read more...

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