Documenting Beetle Diversity in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Coleoptera Taxonomic Working Group (TWIG) at the Louisiana State Arthropod Museum
Christopher Carlton, TWIG Coordinator

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Coleoptera Twig Website Contents

Several years ago a plan was initiated to survey all organisms within the boundaries of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). The effort is being conducted by biologists at Great Smoky Mountains National Park and independent taxonomic specialists  in cooperation with, and supported by, the non-profit organization Discover Life in America. By far the most diverse group of organisms in the park will be the insects, and within insects the most diverse order will be the Coleoptera, or beetles. The initial stages of this ambitious project were implemented as a structured collecting strategy conducted "in-house" with subsequent field expertise provided by U.S. and international specialists. Insect sampling was conducted at intervals of every two weeks at 11 sites within GSMNP using Malaise traps, Lindgren funnel traps, and pitfall traps. At intervals of every six months these methods were supplemented using Berlese extraction and ground pans. These sampling methods were conducted from late 2000-2003. The resulting specimens were sorted to the ordinal level by biologists at GSMNP and now represent the focal groups for finer level identification by the various cooperators.

Adranes lecontei Brendel

Adranes lecontei Brendel (Staphylinidae: Pselaphinae),
a specialized myrmecophile (living with ants) collected
during the June 2001 "GSMNP Beetle Blitz" (painting by
ATBI volunteer artist Nancy Lowe).

Mission Statement and Acknowledgment
The Louisiana State Arthropod Museum will coordinate the distribution of beetle taxa to specialists for identification and will assimilate and distribute basic information about Coleoptera known to inhabit GSMNP. This website will serve as a bulletin board for reporting progress on the overall Coleoptera survey effort. It includes a list of collaborators participating in the project and links to other websites, a checklist of beetle species known to occur in GSMNP and other information pertinent to the advancement of the knowledge about beetles in GSMNP. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0516311. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Samples of Coleoptera will be shipped to the LSAM as they accumulate during the in-house portion of the project and supplemental efforts (e.g., "Beetle and Litter  Blitzes" conducted during June 2001, July 2003, July 2004, and June 2005). We will sort the Coleoptera to lower taxonomic levels (families, tribes, genera, etc.), and will sort to species certain taxa that we are proficient at identifying. Remaining sorted fractions will be shipped to collaborators who will process them further, ultimately identifying them to species. The final disposition of data and specimens is as follows: Exemplars of identified taxa, including uniques, are to be returned to GSMNP for permanent deposition. Specimen data are to be forwarded to the Southern Appalachian Information Node (SAIN), a part of the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII). Duplicate exemplars may be retained by the identifiers. The LSAM is maintaining a simplified species checklist posted on this website to allow continual tracking of beetle species recorded from GSMNP. If you are identifying beetles for the ATBI, please check your determinations against this list and provide us with the names of any new taxa that should be added.

Collections of Coleoptera at the GSMNP will be enhanced, with an ultimate goal of having all species present in the park represented in the GSMNP insect collection. A database of the Coleoptera of GSMNP will be generated (at least 3500 species of beetles can be expected) as part of the larger ATBI effort. The Coleoptera twig will provide important taxonomic and biological information for the GSMNP by expediting and coordinating identifications of beetles and documenting their distributions within its boundaries.