Ramsey Cascades, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Image: NPS.
There are 27 freshwater crustacean and crayfish species, 74 types of moths and butterflies, and 78 kinds of algae. Not to mention the 200 species of slime mold.
This isn’t a Central American cloud forest or some other tropical haven for animals and plants, but rather a habitat right in our back yards, along the eastern coast of the U.S.: It’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the focus of Kurt Repanshek’s article “The Mother Lode” from the July-August Audubon.
In a dozen years, since the park’s launch of an All Taxa Biological Inventory in 1998, scientists have discovered 6,500 species previously not found there and 900-plus that are new to science. There’s speculation the land could shelter as many as 100,000 total new species. Crazy, right?
“Oval in shape, roughly 800 square miles covering the Tennessee-North Carolina border like a rumpled blanket, and traipsed upon by some nine million people each year,” Repanshek writes, “Great Smoky Mountains National Park has proved to be an unassuming wellspring of biological diversity.” Read more at audubonmagazine.org