Cosberella lamaralexanderi, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

photo of the week for Wednesday, 2008, September 17
Photographer: Ernest Bernard, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, via Discover Life in America

Most often we look at the obvious in national parks: gorgeous waterfalls or mountain settings, so-called charismatic mega-fauna such as wolves, bears or moose, colorful wildflowers.

But beyond those scenes and subjects there's an amazing world of life. Since the late 1990s biologists have been involved in an All Taxa Biological Inventory at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Designed to inventory all the various forms of life in the park, the inventory to date has discovered nearly 900 life forms new to science and 5,000 new to the park.

Among them are these springtails, a microscopic species related to insects that were named Lamar Alexannderri, Cosberella lamaralexanderi, after the U.S. senator from Tennessee. For more information on the ATBI, check out this site.

On the Web: www.nps.gov/grsm