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Hunter Library
Research Guides
Western Carolina University

WNC Local and Regional Habitat Information: Home

Guide regarding plant and animal species habitats, with emphasis on Western North Carolina and the southern Appalachian Mountains.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Species Mapper uses locations where species have been found to help predict additional places where they may occur in the park. These predictions, or models, are based on observations made during ongoing resource monitoring as well as during research studies conducted by scientists from all over the world. The result of the model is a reliable distribution of where each species lives in the park. - NPS News Release August 2016

An example predicted species map for Scarlet Tanagers (Piranga olivacea)

Scarlet Tanager Species Map. Outline of park with tanager density shown in pink.

Species Information and Distribution in GSMNP: NPSpecies & IRMA

Two useful tools for researching specific species in the Smokies include NPSpecies, which provides information regarding the occurrence and status of species on National Park Service lands (you can limit by locale, e.g., GSMP, Uwharrie National Forest, etc.).  IRMA is the Integrated Resource Management Application database, which is an information/data repository for Natural Park Service's natural and cultural resources.

NPSpecies Example Image

Quick Search results in IRMA

Natural Heritage Programs: North Carolina

Need a description of an area's topography, geology/soils, common and rare flora/fauna, or other natural resources?

Natural heritage inventories have been created nationwide to track states' natural resources, biodiversity, and conservation efforts.  Links to these often provide information about species' (both flora and fauna) distributions across natural communities within a state, descriptions of natural communities themselves, and additional conservation information. 

North Carolina's Heritage Program is particularly robust providing not only a list of rare plants and animals, but a natural communities list which describes forests, balds, woodlands, outcrops, glades, barrens, grasslands, etc.  North Carolina Regional and County Inventories are also available and these inventories generally include descriptions of the study area's climate, topography, geology/soils, use, flora, and fauna.

Example page of a Natural Areas Inventory

WCU Herbarium

The WCU Herbarium (WCUH), established in 1953, houses over 30,0000 pressed plant and fungi specimens.  The largest botanical resource in western North Carolina, holdings include Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Flora of Southern Highland Rock Outcrops collections. 

Additional information regarding the WCU Herbarium can be found at the WCU Herbarium website.  Dr. Kathy Mathews is currently the director of the WCU Herbarium.

Field Research Stations & Labs