Parks as classrooms offers kids unforgettable experiences

Courtney Lix grew up entwined in the natural and cultural history of Great Smoky Mountains National Park like a vine climbing up an ancient tree. Her grandfather, Henry Lix, was a park service employee who came to the Smokies…

What are fungi?

A typical mushroom is comprised of a cap, gills, and stem, which are important characteristics for identification; however, these features vary greatly depending on the species. Pictured: Russula betularum.

Have you ever been walking through the woods and happened to stumble upon a mushroom or a massive horde of mushrooms? Have you ever wondered whether those mushrooms were edible or poisonous? Well, I’m here to introduce you to mushrooms, mycology, and the fascinating world of fungi! Fungi are a unique group of organisms that […]

Scientists discover new salamander species hiding in plain sight

Until recently, it was thought that 30 species of salamander live in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But a recent article in Bionomia, the international journal devoted to biological naming, announced that what was believed to be one species of salamander has been found to actually consist of at least four distinct species, two of […]

Scientist uncovers secret life of soil

Some connections in the vast web of life are little easier to see than others. In the Smokies this time of year, black bears lumber up the swaying branches of native cherry trees to feast on dark, sun-ripened fruit. Wood thrushes swoop down from their perches to snatch fat caterpillars and worms from the forest […]

Permanent Camp: A new guide to fishes of the Smokies

By George Ellison Sicklefin Redhorse . . . Warmouth . . . Black Crappie . . . Mottled Sculpin . . . Sauger . . . Smoky Madtom . . . Gilt Darter . . . Topminow . . . Mirror Shiner . . . Rosyside Dace . . . Central Stoneroller . . . […]

Discovering the intersection of history and nature

Story and photos by Sue Wasserman Being the Steve Kemp Writer-in-Residence, at least for me, is like being a kid in the proverbial candy store. My eyes pop, thinking of all the delicious possibilities. The only challenge, given the brief time frame, is choosing what to focus on. That thought was behind my request to […]

Convergence of diversity: The Twin Creeks natural history collections

By Aaron Searcy. All images by Joye Ardyn Durham. The Natural History Collections room at Twin Creeks Science and Education Center in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is the one place in the world where the endlessly surprising diversity of life found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is assembled together as one astounding whole. Beyond a preparation […]