Scientists show off Smokies species research in Gatlinburg

4:55 PM, Mar 22, 2013   |    comments
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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the focus of a scientific conference in Gatlinburg this weekend.

"Discover Life in America" focuses on efforts to identify, study and manage the estimated 60,000 to 80,000 species in the Smokies.

The annual conference highlights the research and discoveries made in the past year.

The Smokies is considered one of the world's most biologically diverse ecosystems.

"Discover Life in America" Director Todd Witcher said scientists can't adequately protect the Smokies' wildlife without knowing as much as possible about its species.

"One of the ideas behind an all taxa biodiversity inventory is you can't really protect and preserve things without knowing all about them or even in some cases know they exist," said Witcher.

The effort to find and document each species in the park started back in 1998. Scientists have identified more than 900 species that are completely new to science and found more than 7,000 species previously undocumented in the park.

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