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The Smoky Mountains National Park recently announced a milestone achievement! In October, a unique species was found in the park. This marked the 1,000th unique species to be solely found in the Smoky Mountains. We’ve got all the details on the discovery of the new species in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
About the New Species in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
In October, 5 new species of lichen were documented in the national park. This brought the total number of new species that have been discovered in the park’s boundaries to 1,000! Finding 1,000 new species in such a well studied and well visited park is something even scientists are amazed by. Dr. Erin Tripp of the University of Colorado and Dr. James Lendemer of the New York Botanical Garden are credited with discovering the lichen. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has about 800 different species of lichen. More species of lichen have been discovered in the Smoky Mountains than any other national park!
Biodiversity in the Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains is the most biodiverse park in the National Park System. More than 19,000 species have been documented in the park, and many more are to be discovered. The main reasons the Smokies have such great biodiversity are mountains, climate, and weather. There are about 100 species of native trees in the Smokies, more than 1,500 flowering plants, more than 200 species of birds, and 68 species of mammals! There are also 67 native fish species, 39 species of reptiles, and 43 species of amphibians.
Discover Life in America, a nonprofit based in the Smoky Mountains, is partnering with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to document all the species in the park’s boundaries. The two recently celebrated their 20th year of partnership and their All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory, which helps park officials understand the biodiversity within their parks and is an effort to identify and record every single species in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory has grown to become the largest sustained natural history inventory in the United States, and one of the largest in the world. So far, the project has more than doubled the number of species known in the park!
Things to Do at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
You’ll love exploring all the biodiversity in the Smoky Mountains! The best ways to do so are to go for a hike or a scenic drive. The Smoky Mountains has more than 850 miles of hiking trails and numerous scenic drives that provide perfect opportunities to take in the natural beauty of the area. Hike to Grotto Falls along Trillium Gap Trail, which meanders through an old-growth hemlock forest. The cool, moist environment around the 25-foot waterfall is ideal for salamanders, so be on the lookout! For one of the best scenic drives, travel along the Cades Cove Loop Road. The Cades Cove Loop Road is an 11-mile, one-way loop road that circles the cove and offers one of the best opportunities for wildlife viewing. You have the chance to see everything from white-tailed deer, to black bears, to turkeys!
Come visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to explore all of its wondrous diversity! Check out these 6 shocking secrets about the Smoky Mountains, then plan your trip.