The Great Smoky Mountains Park is asking for help in conserving the species

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee is asking visitors to help preserve the views of the park.

How? Asking them for photos of all the animals, plants, insects or other organisms they encounter in the hikes.

Discover Life in America, a national park research partner, has launched “Smokies Most Wanted” with the iNaturalist app. Once visitors upload photos of their finds to the app, the Discover Life in America team can begin “recording new park views or detecting invasive species, studying little-studied or rare species, and mapping species throughout the park, ”the press release said.

With the app, visitors can pinpoint exactly where they noticed a view, record sounds and to take picturesreported on the project page.

Since January 7, the contributions of visitors have helped to learn more 70 new species to the park, according to iNaturalist. Among them are “33 different species of wasps, 15 species of flies, 10 beetles and many others.”

“It’s really fun to be part of a community where everyone can make a significant scientific contribution just through the camera and an interest in nature,” said Graham Montgomery, a UCLA graduate student, in a release.

Park scientists use observations to map plants and animals that live in the national park. These cards allow park staff to “make informed decisions about protecting the park and its valuable natural resources.”

From 60,000 to 80,000 species living in the national park, only about 21,000 were listed. Of those, fewer than 1,000 were mapped, says a research partner.

“There are millions of visitors to the park each year, but few people know about or enjoy iNaturalist,” said Will Kuhn, Discover Life in America’s director of science and research. “If we can get the information out to the crowd, it could mean that thousands of new users will make tens of thousands of observations, some of which could lead to new discoveries.”

The research organization has also created a guide listing about 100 high-priority species that require more information. Among the park’s the most sought after species these are turtles, oriental chipmunks, green stench and many other species of fungi, plants, birds and insects.

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