Smoky Mountains Wildlife & Biodiversity

  1. DLIA Brings Beetle Mania to the Smokies: An interview with Claire Winfrey

    Beetle Study

    Did you know… about one in every four animals on the planet is a beetle! Of the  roughly 400,000 species of beetles known, some are pollinators, others recyclers –some even help to offset the effects of climate change.

    “Insects are an instant connection to the wild and an extreme example of Earth’s biodiversity,” says Claire Winfrey, a beetle expert and second-year Ph.D. student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. “Especially in warmer months, take some time to look in almost any type of habitat and you can find them.”

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  2. Science at Sugarlands: Grassy Balds

    Grassy Balds

    Mysterious and haunting, Southern Appalachian grassy balds have long fascinated scientists and hikers alike. How many balds are there in the Smokies? How did they evolve? How do they support rare plants? Can balds be found in other parts of the world?

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  3. Curiosity Cabinet: Hickory Horned Devils become Regal Moths

    Citheronia regalis

    By Peyton Proffitt

    This month, curiosity drew me to the remarkable collection of insects housed at the Twin Creeks Science and Education Center. At first, I was overwhelmed by the number, age and diversity of the specimens, but after a few minutes, I decided to focus on specimens that made me think, “Oh, how pretty!”

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  4. Little Sluice of Heaven: Creek Crossings and Crippling Critters

    Little Sluice of Heaven: Creek Crossings and Crippling Critters

    By Lisa Duff

    When Great Smoky Mountains Association volunteer hike guide Lloyd Shiver suggested we knock out two trails with significant creek crossings this summer, I thought, “Can’t ask for a better time to cool off in the Smokies than late June and July.” Add to that the fact boat rides would be required to cross Fontana Lake at the conclusion of each, I jumped at the chance to join in.

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  5. Studies Offer Insights into Behaviors of Park Bears

    Bear searching trash for food

    By Steve Kemp

    Four research projects focused on bears in the Great Smoky Mountains are currently underway or have recently been completed. Of the four, the results of two are troubling, one is encouraging, and on the last, it’s too early to tell.

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  6. DLiA’s Science at Sugarlands Focuses on Fish Restoration

    Pat Rakes

    By Frances Figart

    Part of the mission of any national park is protecting and restoring species that were once native. Restoring native fish is an exciting area of Smokies science that goes unseen by those who are not swimming or snorkelling in park waters.

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  7. Science at Sugarlands Features Wildflowers

    Science at Sugarlands Features Wildflowers

    By Frances Figart

    You couldn’t pick a more perfect month than May to head out on the trails to spot wildflowers. to help you learn more about them, Discover Life in America will host Wildflowers: Gems of the Smokies at the Sugarlands Visitor Center Friday, May 17, from 1–3 p.m.

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  8. The big and small of it

    Photo by Jessica Hill with Shutterfox Photography

    This month, my Experience Your Smokies class got another peek behind the curtain of park operations and travelled to Twin Creeks Science Center to fish out aquatic invertebrates.

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  9. EYS Exotics & Invasives: Larry and the Lady HWAs

    Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

    During my most recent Experience Your Smokies class, I learned the details of a sad story. It all started in 1951, when a seemingly innocent shipment of trees made its way from Japan to Richmond, Va. The trees were intended for used as exotic suburban showpieces. Unfortunately, they carried with them an invasive species that would, in 40 years time, almost completely destroy one of the most ecologically important tree species in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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  10. Things get wild at EYS

    On a foggy morning just off U.S. 441/Newfound Gap Road, a park ranger’s truck was spotted hauling an olive green culvert to the back of Chimney Tops picnic area. A few folks had gathered to eat an early lunch and take photos of the river. Two rangers approached the group and pose the following question: “Would you like to see a bear today?”

    The thrilled visitors surrounded the culvert at the rangers’ request. To their delight, the rangers opened the culvert door and a young male black bear bolted up the mountain, heading deep into the woods.

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