Over 100,000 plant and animal species discovered in Great Smoky Mountains

Red spotted purple butterfly
The red spotted purple butterfly is one of the rarer species documented in the Smokies (Image credit: Getty)

Rocky Mountains National Park is one of the most ecologically diverse in the US, and after 25 years of research, biologists have identified over 100,000 species living in the park's complex ecosystem. As National Parks Traveler reports, researchers have spent a quarter of a century cataloging plant and animal species, and over 1,000 of those discovered are new to science. 

The researchers were aided by park visitors who participated in the Smokies Most Wanted community project. Adults and kids alike are encouraged to download the iNaturalist app, and record the plants, animals, fungi, and even mold that they spot on their adventures.

Visitors can record location data for under-recorded species, and enough data has been gathered to remove several from this list, including smooth rock tripe lichen, great blue lobelia, and the beautiful red-spotted purple butterfly.

You can still help

"GSMNP currently ranks number five in iNaturalist observations, users, and species recorded across the National Park Service system," said Will Kuhn, director of scienec and research at nonprofit Discover Life in America.

“But the Smokies is probably number one in terms of actual documented species, thanks to the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory. We need visitors’ help making our diversity in iNaturalist to match our true diversity. Let’s get to number one and learn more about our park life!"

For more remarkable stats, check out our guide to interesting, inspiring, and downright unbelievable National Park facts.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.