Archived Outdoors

Smokies species inventory hits 21,000

Smokies species inventory hits 21,000

The All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory has hit a new milestone in its quest to document the incredible biodiversity of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this year passing the 21,000 mark in species identified within the park.

The 21,080 species logged thus far include 10,441 that had never been found in the park before. Of those, 1,028 are new to science, discovered in the Smokies as part of the ATBI. 

This year’s discoveries include a Staphylocollus bacteria species isolated from healthy black bears, a fungal parasite of millipedes that was discovered through Twitter, two thread-legged assassin bugs, native bees and more.

“Despite COVID-related setbacks, we safely hosted three biology summer interns,” reads a newsletter from Discover Life In America, the nonprofit tasked with executing the ATBI project. “They enjoyed backpacking and day hiking around the Smokies to document under-studied groups of organisms, and they made a few discoveries of their own including a millipede species that sets a rare family-level record for the park.”

The pandemic has also given DLIA the time to catch up on inventorying backlogged collections, with volunteers organizing and inventorying more than 2.4 million arthropod specimens for identification. 

DLIA has also been working to analyze existing data to better estimate how many more species remain to be discovered. 

“This groundbreaking work will guide our long-term ATBI efforts, and the methodology will no doubt prove useful for other biological inventories around the world,” the newsletter states.

Help DLIA continue its work by donating at

Leave a comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.