A description of datasets available to researchers.

A map of forest types in Great Smoky Mountains National Park where hemlock is a dominant tree species.
A map of forest types in Great Smoky Mountains National Park where hemlock is a dominant tree species.


Researcher Databases:

As a researcher in these national parks, your data is extremely valuable to us! We are charged by Congress to inform our management decisions with the best scientific data available. Your datasets may come in one of a wide variety of formats, but often with minor modifications your data can easily interface with existing NPS databases. For work in the Smokies, please contact the Data Manager, as early as possible in your study to discuss mutual access to datasets and compatibility. Publicly available data is posted on the NPS IRMA Portal.


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Long-term studies and data sets:

  • All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory— Over 19,000 species have been documented in the park and scientists believe an additional 80,000-100,000 species may live here. In 1998, the Smokies began a park-wide biological inventory of all life forms;this project is referred to as an All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory, or ATBI. The goal of an ATBI is to determine what species live in the park, their distribution, and their ecological community. Scientists have discovered nearly 10,000 species that were not previously known from the park, and many of these (~1000) had never been seen anywhere in the world before-- they were new to science. This extraordinary diversity of this park led to the park's designation as a United Nations World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve. The ATBI in the Smokies is coordinated by our non-profit partner Discover Life in America, or DLIA. Together, the park and DLIA have made tremendous progress, and the ATBI has grown to become the largest sustained natural history inventory in the US, and one of the largest in the world.
  • Research in All Parks—All of the permits for research projects in all National Park Service sites since 2001, and many projects from before that, can be searched at the permit database web site. Most of the reports researchers turn in annually (IARs) are also searchable at this site, though reports containing sensitive information, especially of rare species, are not publicly available.
  • Air Quality Monitoring & Research Program—Great Smoky Mountains National Park has collaborated with over one dozen projects to monitor and study meteorology, climate, and atmospheric pollution. Most of the data collection has focused on Look Rock (2700 ft, Blount County, TN), Clingmans Dome (6660 ft, Sevier County, TN), and Cove Mountain (4150 ft, Sevier County, TN), but data collection for some programs are also collected at as many as twenty sites throughout the park. These three air quailty stations have hourly data that can be retrieved on-line. Programmatic data such as acid precipitation, real-time air quality and webcams, dry deposition, gaseous pollutants, climate, mercury deposition, meteorology, as well as visibility and particulate matter are all available from the Data Store. The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont has some great data about lichen monitoring as an indicator of air quality.
  • National Weather Service—The National Weather Service data is on-line at the National Climate Data Center (NCDC) website. The cooperative station data for park headquarters is listed by NCDC as "Gatlinburg" (since 1948). One can also find Cades Cove (since 1991), Mt. LeConte (since 1987), and Oconaluftee (since 1958). The Weather Service does not post Newfound Gap, Cove Mountain, or Purchase Knob data to the web. They only have the hard copy data in Morristown, TN.
  • Water Quality—All water quality data collected for the NPS in Great Smoky Mountains NP streams is available at the NPS STORET webpage. Most of the other water quality data for other NPS sites is also at this site or will be eventually. The Aquarius Web Data Portal serves as the repository for the parks continuous water quality data.
  • Appalachian Highlands Inventory and Monitoring Network—Launched in 2000, one goal of the NPS Inventory and Monitoring program has been to complete vegetation mapping and inventories of all vertebrate groups and vascular plants in the entire National Park system. The Appalachian Highland Network oversees monitoring of key indices of the health of the natural resources and systems of the four parks in this Network. Monitoring and inventory programs in the Smokies have a much earlier start date as the Smokies was selected in 1992 to be a prototype Inventory and Monitoring park. Reports can be found on-line at the Natural Resources Publications Management website.
  • MAPS—Great Smoky Mountains National Park maintained two Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship bird banding stations from 2000-2006 (at Tremont, TN, 1,476 ft / 450m elevation) and from 2002-2006 (at Purchase Knob, NC, at 4,675 ft / 1,425m elevation). These stations follow the protocols of the Institute for Bird Populations. A MAPS station was initiated in 2008 at Richland Balsam on the Blue Ridge Parkway. A MAPS station was operated at Bass Lake near Blowing Rock, NC, on the Parkway from 1996 to 2001.
  • Noland Divide Research Watershed—This 43 acre (17.4 hectare) watershed in the high elevation spruce/fir forest on the North Carolina side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been studied intensely since 1993, looking primarily at nitrogen cycling and biogeochemistry.
  • Salamander MonitoringSalamander surveys in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Coweeta Hydrological Laboratory date back without gaps since 1994. Drs. Joe Pechmann and Jeremy Hyman of Western Carolina University continue a project conducted by Nelson Hairston Sr. and R. Haven Wiley of UNC-Chapel Hill.
  • Citizen Science-/Based Monitoring—Salamander monitoring using cover boards, timed searches, and/or Pauley bags has been conducted at Tremont since 1999 and at Purchase Knob since 2000. Phenology records (first bloom, leaf-out, bird return, etc.) have been kept at Tremont since the mid-1980s. Also see Water quality monitoring on the Middle Prong River and tributaries.
  • National Ecological Monitoring Network- NEON is a continental-scale ecological observation facility sponsored by the National Science Foundation that gathers and synthesizes data on the impacts of climate change, land use change and invasive species on natural resources and biodiversity. Data collected by the NEON site in the park is available at the NEON Data Portal.

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Last updated: October 31, 2022

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