• Approximately 1,500 black bears live in the national park.

    Great Smoky Mountains

    National Park NC,TN

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    Several trails in the park are temporarily closed. Please check the "Backcountry Facilities" section of the Temporary Road and Facilities Closures page for further details. More »

The Southern Appalachians: The Perfect Place for Research

weather ballon

Meteorology researchers from Duke and UNC-Asheville release a weather balloon from Purchase Knob, Great Smoky Mountains NP.


Research Needs:

Although most prospective projects offer value to the park's mission, we especially solicit applications that relate to the following topics:

  • Assessing risk for habitats potentially endangered by climate change—where are the refugia likely to be located in within the park?
  • Emerging wildlife and forest pests and pathogens.
  • Ecology and control of non-indigenous species
  • Watershed- and landscape-scale analysis of ecosystem functions.
  • Long-term ecological monitoring complementing existing monitoring programs.
  • The effects of atmospheric pollution, noise, and light pollution—establishing of critical loads for pollutants.
  • The effects of human activities and habitat fragmentation in and around the park.
  • Documenting and describing species diversity; modeling species distributions and factors controlling it using data now available.
  • Wetland classification, function and formation—assessing contaminants.
  • Pollination biology—especially for endemic plants and invertebrates.
  • Amphibian declines—pathogens and environmental factors.
  • Soils and geological studies building on our recently completed soils and geological maps of the park.

Click here for a more detailed research needs catalogue.

Note: research involving significant experimental manipulation or taking of large numbers of organisms may not be appropriate for within a National Park area.

Return to research home page.

Did You Know?

Scientists estimate that 100,000 different species live in the park.

What lives in Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Although the question sounds simple, it is actually extremely complex. Right now scientists think that we only know about 17 percent of the plants and animals that live in the park, or about 17,000 species of a probable 100,000 different organisms.