The Smokies are part of the Biosphere Project. Inside the boundaries of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, countless species of plants and animals exist. The Smokies have more salamander species than other place in the US. The change in altitudes and the dense forests and streams have allowed animals and plants to thrive. From the old growth forest to the streams in the lower elevations, the diversity of life in the Smokies is a wonder of mother nature.
Scientist use the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a test case for reintroducing animals that once lived in the park and seeing how native species react to changes in habitat and non-native species. The scientist even bring in amateur help to discover where animals live and play and to track the coverage of plants both in the canopy and below in the ground cover.
Wildlife – The animal diversity in the National Park is remarkable. From insects to elk and everything in between, the animals are protected from the outside world and are allowed to prosper. The bLack Bear of course is the emblem of the GSMNP. The deer is a favorite among visitors and of course the most recent addition to the mix is the elk which is now the largest animal in the Smokies. Getting close to some of these animals is prohibited but you are close enough to enjoy and admire them from your vehicle or from a hiking trail.
Plants – The flora of the GSMNP displays the wonder of the Southern Appalachians. Deciduous forests, hemlock groves, old growth forests, edible fungus, ramp and ginseng. The change in elevation, the change in temperatures, the rain forest-like environment of some of the parts of the Smokies give the chances for bio-diversity the opportunity to roam and spread and grow to their full potential.