Smoky Mountains Wildlife & Biodiversity

  1. Smokies Science Series Returns with a Spotlight on Butterflies

    Smokies Science Series Returns with a Spotlight on Butterflies by Aaron Searcy, Publications Associate Warren Bielenberg spends a lot of time photographing Southern Appalachian butterflies in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But he willingly admits that his journey of butterfly discovery didn’t begin in earnest until he retired from 34 years as a park ranger and began volunteering in Cades Cove Read more...
  2. Charismatic Beetles Light up the Night

    Charismatic Beetles Light up the Night By Frances Figart, Creative Services Director Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced Tuesday, April 27, that its popular synchronous firefly viewing event in Elkmont Campground will resume this year June 1–8 after a hiatus last spring to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In 2019, the spectacle had attracted more than 28,000 people Read more...
  3. The monarchs are coming!

    The monarchs are coming! By Will Kuhn, Director of Science and Research with Discover Life in America  Monarch butterflies have begun their yearly northward migration and are due to arrive in the Smokies any day now. This time of year, you may start to see Danaus plexippus flying around the region. These attractive orange and black butterflies have made the long Read more...
  4. Looking at Birds Through an Artist’s Eye 

    Looking at Birds Through an Artist’s Eye  Story and artwork by Gaynell Lawson  With a fascination and enjoyment of birds, how do I go from studying a bird to painting a fanciful image of the bird? For that matter, why paint a fanciful bird instead of a true likeness? Carolina Wren by Gaynell Lawson As I determine the bird’s habits and attributes, an Read more...
  5. Bat Week Shines a Light on Smokies’ Endangered Bats

    Bat Week Shines a Light on Smokies’ Endangered Bats by Aaron Searcy  This year’s Bat Week (Oct. 24–31) comes at a time when bats in the Great Smoky Mountains are particularly busy. Hibernating species will continue to feed as much as possible in anticipation of the long winter ahead, and on cool fall evenings, bats may swarm in groups to find a mate or locate safe places to Read more...
  6. Lichens of the Smokies Revealed at Science at Sugarlands

    Lichens of the Smokies Revealed at Science at Sugarlands

    James Lendemer loves lichens. He loves talking about them, showing pictures of them, and telling others what lichens are and how they are important.

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  7. Species-a-Day Calendar puts park biodiversity at people’s fingertips

    Species-a-Day Calendar puts park biodiversity at people’s fingertips

    A new Species-a-Day perpetual flip calendar available now in Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitor centers allows park enthusiasts to learn more about a place renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life on each day of this and all years to come.

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  8. Science at Sugarlands: Post-fire Plant-Soil Interactions

    Science at Sugarlands: Post-fire Plant-Soil Interactions

    By Frances Figart, creative services director

    Soil is the foundation of our planet. We walk on top of it every day, yet most of us rarely think about it.

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  9. 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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  10. 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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