Carlos Campbell Overlook

Creatures Great and Small

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Climate Change Affects Them All

Watch the video for more about how climate change is affecting a salamander that is only found in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Climate Change and the Red-Cheeked Salamander

85%Percentage of a bear’s diet that is plants.

Small Changes = Big Impacts

As the climate changes, more frequently we see a spring come early, trees bud, flowers bloom, and insects hatch from eggs. Sometimes with an early spring, a late winter freeze hurts the nuts and plants—the main food for bears.


Bear Necessities

A black bear wrapped around a tree branch grabs tiny purple berries.

Some bears in the Smokies are active throughout the winter. Will food be available for them? (Photo by Warren Beilenberg)

A short brown fern with a bent over head and wilted leaves.

This frost-damaged fernhead shows the destruction of an early spring followed by a late freeze. Bears depend on fernheads for food in the early spring.

A close-up of an American chestnut leaves and with the fuzzy nut casing opening to show two nut halves inside.

Since the American chestnut (above) has almost died out due to an introduced blight, bears now rely on nuts like acorns, beech, and hickory that are more vulnerable to frost damage.

A close-up of a bumble bee approaching the white flowers on a locust plant.

A bear’s non-plant diet is made up of mostly insects—like bees and wasps—and already dead animals. (Photo by Warren Beilenberg)

A mother black bear with three small cubs, curled up and sleeping outside their den.

Female bears must eat enough in the summer and fall to build up fat to sustain them through winter or they will not have cubs that year.

A black bear explores the top of a closed dumpster in a campground.

An early spring combined with a late frost can reduce the amount of nuts, berries, plants, and insects for bears. Food scarcity can cause bears to look to people for food.

Picture our Parks

Scientists use photographs as records of a scene. We need your help to document the plants, clouds, and seasons—and how they are changing. Use the picture post to take photos and upload them here.

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