Lesson Plan

Salamander Research Field Trip

santeetlah salamander
A student holds a Santeetlah salamander captured during his field trip in the Smokies.

NPS Photo - Jonathan Mays

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Grade Level:
Ninth Grade-College Undergraduate Level
in the park
Salamanders, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, biodiversity, long-term monitoring, phenology monitoring, acid deposition, graphing data sets


The Great Smoky Mountains are known as the “Salamander Capital of the World!” Salamanders are an especially abundant and diverse group in the Great Smokies. There are 30 species of salamanders within the boundaries of the Park. Since salamanders breathe through their skin they are more susceptible to water and air pollution. During this study students will work in groups to collect and record data in taking an inventory in monitoring many of the salamanders found in the park.


1) use the scientific method while studying biodiversity
2) describe the steps in scientific inquiry
3) learn the identifying characteristics between different species of salamanders
4) understand the biodiversity of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
5) recognize the threats to aquatic and terrestrial salamanders
6) explain why it is important to study animal populations
7) demonstrate the ability to collect and record data
8) demonstrate the ability to graph data
9) determine through inference and graphing the greatest predictor of salamander behavior between three variables

Last updated: April 14, 2015