Displaying items by tag: national ecological observatory network
How the 2016 Great Smoky Mountains National Park wildfire affected salamanders and other life, six years on
GATLINBURG — The disastrous Chimney Tops 2 wildfire of 2016 occurred some six years ago, but researchers are still looking at its ecological effects.
The Discover Life in America 2023 Colloquium brought together researchers this month from different fields and universities to present findings on research in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Researchers presented on many topics, ranging from trout to the history of the Mingus family in the park.
One such presentation, the first of the day, from William Peterman, associate professor in wildlife ecology and management at Ohio State University, focused on the effects wildfires had on salamander populations, which he described as negative.
Other presenters touched on the wildfire’s effects as well, including its effects on vegetation and its beneficial effects on the diversity of bird species.
“Smoky Mountains is the self-proclaimed salamander capital of the world,” Peterman said. He focused his study on the plethodontid family of salamanders, which breathe through their skin.
“Kind of think of them as a walking lung,” he said.
Invasive insects are among the vanguard of noticeable climate changes in America’s most-visited national park
GATLINBURG — Ants scurry beneath the carpet of last year’s leaves in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The native ants are busy spreading the seeds of violets and bloodroot, preparing a new carpet of spring wildflowers to draw thousands of visitors.
But the local insects aren’t alone under there. They have become prey to venomous Asian needle ants that also prowl the leaf litter.
These invaders dine on termites, other ants and insects, while stealing habitat from them. Unlike invasive fire ants, needle ants can live in pristine forests and build large colonies with hundreds of queens. But like fire ants, needle ants have a painful sting that can trigger an allergic reaction.
Climate change is expected to make it easier for invasive species like needle ants to upset the delicate balance of this temperate rainforest full of rare plants and animals. That’s just one example.
- great smoky mountains
- climate change appalachia
- southern appalachian climate change
- great smoky mountains national park climate change
- needle ant
- are ants affected by climate change
- daniel malagon
- ana barro
- jason fridley
- paul super
- climate precipitation change
- smokies science
- national ecological observatory network
- invasive species
- change in precipitation
- importance of cloud to water balance highelevation ecosystem
- climate change research
- sampling plot
ORNL research lands are an international ecological benchmark and diverse wonderland of trees, plants, mammals, reptiles and amphibians
Abby Bower is a science writer for Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is a hub for world-class science. The nearly 33,000-acre space surrounding the lab is less known, but also unique. The Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR) is a key hotspot for biodiversity in the Southeast and is home to more than 1,500 species of plants and animals.
At the intersection of Anderson and Roane counties is an important subset of the reservation — the Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park, or NERP — a 20,000-acre ORNL research facility that has been internationally recognized by UNESCO as an official biosphere reserve unit.
“The National Environmental Research Park is a living laboratory and a major resource for conducting ecological studies,” said Evin Carter, an ORNL wildlife ecologist and director of the Southern Appalachian Man and the Biosphere Program, or SAMAB. The NERP has been a core part of SAMAB, which has focused on sustainable economic development and conserving biodiversity in Southern Appalachia since 1989.
With ORNL researchers and scientists from government agencies and academia using the NERP for diverse experiments each year, the park lives up to its status as a living laboratory.
It also lives up to its reputation as a biodiversity hotspot. As one of seven DOE-established environmental research parks reflecting North America’s major ecoregions, it represents the Eastern Deciduous Forest. The NERP comprises parts of this ecoregion that have been identified repeatedly as priorities for global biodiversity conservation, Carter said.
This designation means more than ever as climate change alters ecosystems and biodiversity declines worldwide. According to a landmark international report, on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, around one million plant and animal species are currently threatened with extinction.
- oak ridge national laboratory
- ecological benchmark
- oak ridge national environmental research park
- biosphere reserve
- southern appalachian man and the biosphere
- oak ridge reservation
- culturally significant plant species initiative
- evin carter
- kitty mccracken
- eastern band of cherokee indians
- national ecological observatory network
- northern longeared bat
- indiana bat
- grey bat
- endangered species
- threatened species
- purple gallinule