Imagine hiking the eastern coast of the United States in a matter of hours. Visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park can do just that. How can this be? With its wide range in elevation, the Great Smoky Mountains have incredible biodiversity. Traveling from the lowest valley to the highest peak is like traveling from Georgia to Maine. Characteristics of an area (such as its land features, humidity, and temperature) make it a suitable habitat for specific plants and animals. How diverse is your state or region?
Knowing what lives in your area is the first step to protecting it. The brook trout, which is the only native trout in the Great Smoky Mountains, once swam abundantly in southern Appalachian streams. Over the past century, however, local people have observed that this native fish is vanishing. Scientific monitoring and studies show that rising water temperatures, acid rain, competition with non-native fish, and over-fishing have scaled back native brook trout populations. Fortunately, identifying causes to problems leads to solving them.
After embarking on this electronic field trip, you'll have no doubt that the Great Smoky Mountains is a haven for biodiversity. When it's time to go home, the exploration is far from over. We will give you resources for protecting the biodiversity in your own backyard.
Over 17,000 species of plants and animals have been documented in the park. Let's try and look at as many as possible. Have your students go through all of the modules. Make sure to cover the background first with your students, then, have your students watch the video.
After this, unleash them on the activities and the interactives. Encourage the students to play the games at home and during their free time. You can also have the students go to the National Park Service website at www.nps.gov to explore!!