This year, I’m intent on honing my abilities as an amateur naturalist. The way I see it, whatever it takes to become more familiar with the local flora and fauna would be well worth it.
Along those lines, it’s been interesting to learn about a massive scientific project underway in our own back yard – the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
An initiative of Discover Life in America, the ATBI seeks to inventory the estimated 100,000 species of living organisms in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Hundreds of scientists and volunteers have been working on the ATBI since it began in 1997, and they’ve discovered almost 900 species new to science and more than 6300 species new to the Park. Many of these include algae, bacteria, protozoa and viruses. Also among the discoveries completely new to science are 41 species of spiders, 42 species of beetles, 27 species of crustaceans and 36 species of moths and butterflies.
So far, almost 17,000 species in the Park have been cataloged.
Researchers are on the lookout for rare species not seen in the Park since the 1930s, such as the scarlet kingsnake. What a beauty!
The project website contains, appropriately, an abundance and diversity of interesting information on the scientific frontier around us.
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