The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Public biological survey searches for the Smokies most-wanted species

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Photo by Valerie PolkA child snaps a photo of a flower beetle on a wild hydrangea in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Valerie Polk

Grab your phone and get to some citizen science

Rhonda Wise writes for the public affairs office of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Discover Life in America (DLiA), the nonprofit science research partner, is inviting the public to participate in the Smokies Most Wanted program. This initiative allows visitors to help preserve park species by recording sightings of animals, plants, and other organisms from their smartphones using the iNaturalist app. 

Using the nature app iNaturalist, Smokies Most Wanted encourages visitors to document any organism they encounter while exploring the Smokies. DLiA uses the data collected to record new park species, detect invasive species, learn about under-studied or rare species, and to map species across the park. 

“There are lots of fairly common plants and animals around the Smokies that we just don’t have many datapoints for,” said Becky Nichols, park entomologist. “Smokies Most Wanted is a great way for the public to contribute to science in the park, and to help us learn about and protect life in the Smokies.” 

Smokies Most Wanted is an extension of the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory, DLiA’s ongoing project to catalog all life in the Smokies. The ATBI, also utilizing iNaturalist, has recorded 4,100 species by more than 5,700 users, who have submitted over 71,000 iNaturalist observations in the park. 

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