Do you love the wondrous plants and animals of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
Then check out Species Mapper to find out where your favorite plants and animals live in the Great Smoky Mountains!
This exciting new mapping tool is the product of a partnership between the GSMNP’s Inventory and Monitoring Branch with the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
Species Mapper uses data collected by scientists and computer models to predict where different species might live in the Smokies. It also provides a visual database of where species have been documented by researchers from around the world.
In other words, for those of us who love the Smokies, it's probably one of the coolest thing ever.
A Biodiversity Web Application
Not only is this fascinating new tool an exciting new way to learn about plants and animals in the Smokies, it’s also practical.
This new web application will be an important tool for conservation. One of the biggest threats to the national park are invasive pests such as the hemlock wooly adelgid and emerald ash borer that kill important tree species. Researchers now have access to vast amounts of visual map data to better protect species within the park.
Even if you aren’t a researcher, this new tool offers a completely new way to experience the Smokies.
Here are a few interesting ways you can use Species Mapper to learn about the park. Check out the ranges of these specific species and find a hiking trail to experience them!
- The Spring Salamander - This beautiful red salamander lives in mountain springs high in the mountains in the Smokies. A good hiking trail to see this salamander would be the Alum Cave Trail.
- Eastern Hemlock - This water-loving tree can be found along streams and rivers in the Great Smoky Mountains. To see large stands of Eastern Hemlock, check out the Trillium Gap Trail or the Roaring Fork Motor Trail.
- The Flowering Dogwood - If you want beautiful photos of Dogwood Trees in the spring, this map will show you what areas of the park have the greatest concentrations of them in areas like Tremont.
- Eastern Poison Ivy - Sometimes there are plants you’d rather avoid. From the map, Poison Ivy seems most common along rivers in low elevation areas of the park.
- Fraser Fir - Hardy mountain trees that are commonly used as Christmas trees only grow along the highest mountain ridges and peaks in the Smokies. They tend to only grow in elevations above 5,000 feet, so you can find them in areas like Clingmans Dome and Newfound Gap.
These are only a few ways you can use this new Great Smoky Mountains species tool to make your trip to the mountains even better!
For birding enthusiasts or wildflower lovers, this tool makes it much easier to find the beautiful creatures that inhabit the park. For example, you could search for hiking trails that have beautiful Pink Lady Slipper Orchids or see a stunning yellow Canada Warbler.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to over 1,800 unique species, some of which can only be found within the Smokies. This incredible new tool is a stunning new way to explore the biodiversity that makes the Smoky Mountains a national treasure and an official World Heritage Site.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about this new tool in the comments section! How will you use species mapper?
Why not experience the spectacular diversity of life that exists in the Great Smoky Mountains by planning your own cabin vacation? Cabins keep you close to the national park and give you your own slice of the Smokies to enjoy!
Written by Mark Frazier