Land Snails and Millipedes on the Parkway

Large millipede - Blue Ridge ParkwayHow can you protect what you don’t know you have? The National Park Service is charged by Congress with conserving “the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein” for all the lands under its care. Americans can do this best when they know what plants, animals, and fungi—the “wild life”—is found on those lands. Recently, the staff of the Blue Ridge Parkway has been partnering with taxonomists, volunteer citizen scientists, school children, and Hands on the Land to conduct inventories of important invertebrates along the Parkway.

In 2015, this team conducted an inventory of bumble bee species from the north end of Shenandoah National Park to the south end of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and all along the Blue Ridge Parkway. This was spurred on by the reported disappearance of several species of bumble bee in the east, one of which—the rusty patched bumble bee—is now classified as an endangered species. Though none of the missing bees were found, the group did find 10 other species and provide material for a study of how genes flow between bee populations across long distances.

For spring and summer of 2017 Park staff and citizen scientists will try to inventory land snails and millipedes along the Parkway. Both land snails and millipedes are extremely important for decomposing leaf litter. Land snails are an important source of the calcium breeding songbirds need for their eggs and some species produce slime when they are threatened that fluoresces under UV light. In addition to offering two in-person training sessions this spring, training information will also be posted on Hands in the Land and use the great resource of the website for coordinating the collecting effort and sharing the data. Watch this site, or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

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