Smoky Mountains Wildlife & Biodiversity

  1. Put safety first as elk herd enjoys 21st rut season

    Put safety first as elk herd enjoys 21st rut season While humans are focused on world events and weather updates, elk have only one thing on their minds. From now to early November, hormones kick in and these large ungulates go into overdrive. During the fall breeding season, bulls’ antlers reach maturity, and their ethereal bugling calls resonate through fields and forests within the park Read more...
  2. Scientists discover new salamander species hiding in plain sight

    Scientists discover new salamander species hiding in plain sight Until recently, it was thought that 30 species of salamander live in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But a recent article in Bionomia, the international journal devoted to biological naming, announced that what was believed to be one species of salamander has been found to actually consist of at least four distinct species, two of which Read more...
  3. Scientist Uncovers Secret Life of Soil

    Scientist Uncovers Secret Life of Soil Some connections in the vast web of life are little easier to see than others. In the Smokies this time of year, black bears lumber up the swaying branches of native cherry trees to feast on dark, sun-ripened fruit. Wood thrushes swoop down from their perches to snatch fat caterpillars and worms from the forest floor. A hungry snail might Read more...
  4. Permanent Camp: A New Guide to Fishes of the Smokies

    Permanent Camp: A New Guide to Fishes of the Smokies By George Ellison Sicklefin Redhorse . . . Warmouth . . . Black Crappie . . . Mottled Sculpin . . . Sauger . . . Smoky Madtom . . . Gilt Darter . . . Topminow . . . Mirror Shiner . . . Rosyside Dace . . . Central Stoneroller . . . Longnose Gar . . . Gizzard Shad. Those are but a few of the 80 species of fish residing in the 2,900 miles of Read more...
  5. “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...
  6. 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...
  7. 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...
  8. 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...
  9. 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...
  10. 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...

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