Biodiversity in the Park

Since the late 1990’s, the National Park Service and Discover Life In America have taken on the ambitious task of completing an All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As one of the most species rich areas in the temperate zone, the park is considered a hot spot of biological diversity and has been designated as an International Biosphere Reserve. Researchers have been working to discover and document all organisms within the boundaries of the park, including the microscopic algae. Algal diversity is high and many species are new, endemic, or restricted in range.  The algal taxonomic working group led by Rex L. Lowe (Bowling Green State University) and Jeffrey R. Johansen (John Carroll University) collected samples from freshwater habitats throughout the national park and discovered several diatom species that are new to science. 

Eunotia

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has a range of acidic aquatic habitats from complex geology, across a range of elevation (267 m to 2025 m), making it an ideal location to explore the biodiversity of Eunotia. Natural variations in acidity (i.e. from the Anakeesta formation) are combined with influences from anthropogenic sources of acidity including sulfur and nitrous oxides in acid precipitation. Rainfall, especially at high elevations can have a pH of 4.5, which is 5–10 times more acidic than other areas in North America, where pH ranges from 5.0 to 5.6.

Furey inventoried Eunotia species from lakes, streams, wet walls, ponds, and bogs throughout the national park. Over 50 sub-generic taxa of Eunotia were identified in this study, including 14 species of Eunotia new to science. Several of these new species are posted on the Diatoms of the United States website. 

Funding

  • National Science Foundation

    Grant - Rex L. Lowe

  • Discover Life In America

    Grant - Paula C. Furey

  • North American Benthological Society (NABS)

    Conservation & Environmental Issues Research Award - Paula C. Furey

  • North American Benthological Society (NABS)

    Boesal-Sanderson Award - Paula C. Furey

  • Phycological Society of America

    Grant-in-Aid of Research - Paula C. Furey

  • Sigma Xi

    Grant-in-Aid of Research - Paula C. Furey

  • Phi Kappa Phi

    Love of Learning Award - Paula C. Furey

Participants

Paula Furey

Freshwater Ecologist Department of Biology, St. Catherine University

Rex Lowe

Professor Emeritus Bowling Green State University

Jeffrey Johansen

John Carroll University

Karolina  Smokys  Chasteen Cascade
Image Credit: Algal Taxonomic Working Group: Smokies
Karolina Fuèíková collecting algae from Chasteen Cascade in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Gsm 8 10 05 8  F 0103
Image Credit: Paula C. Furey
Otter Creek, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cocke County, Tennessee
Furey  Lowe Fundingpage  Collecting
Image Credit: Rex L. Lowe
Paula Furey collecting algae from a soil seep in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Smoky Mountains  J Knapp P  Furey
Image Credit: Algal Taxonomic Working Group: Smokies
Jessie Knapp and Paula Furey acquiring GPS coordinates for an algal collection site in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Linda Closeup  Gps  Gsmnp
Image Credit: Paula C. Furey
Linda Novitski collecting algae and GPS coordinates from a wet wall near Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.