, Volume 558, Issue 1, pp 111–118 | Cite as

A Large-scale, Multihabitat Inventory of the Phylum Tardigrada in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, USA: A Preliminary Report

  • Paul J. Bartels
  • Diane R. Nelson


An All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) is underway in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP), with the goal of attempting to identify all species of life in the 2000 km2 park. The GSMNP is a hotbed of biodiversity, a U.N. Biosphere Reserve, and one of the largest protected, deciduous forests in the temperate world. We have completed two field seasons of work on the tardigrades in the park (2001–2002). As of July 2003, we have collected 420 samples from soil/decomposed leaf litter, lichens and mosses on trees, and stream sediment and periphyton. A few samples from caves, bird nests, and lichens/mosses on rocks were also collected. Samples were taken from within permanent plots established for the ATBI, representing the major biological communities of the GSMNP. Tardigrades were extracted from samples using centrifugation with Ludox AM™, individually mounted on microscope slides in Hoyer’s medium, and studied with phase contrast and DIC microscopy. We have examined 1524 slides from 60 samples as of July 2003. Prior to our work, only three species of tardigrades had been previously reported from a few samples in the park. We have now recorded 42 species, 8 of which we believe may be new to science. Species richness estimates were calculated using EstimateS 6 software for each of the major tardigrade habitats. Overall, we predict that there are 47 to 76 species in the GSMNP, with generally similar species richness in soil, lichen, moss, and stream habitats. Species richness estimates were also used to determine that the number of tardigrade species was greater in mosses at breast height on trees than in mosses at the base of trees.


Meiofauna biodiversity species richness biological inventory Tennessee North Carolina Southern Appalachians 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bertolani, R., Rebecchi, L. 1996The tardigrades of Emilia (Italy). II. Monte Rondinaio. A multihabitat study on a high altitude valley of the northern ApenninesZoological Journal of the Linnean Society116312Google Scholar
  2. Brown, D. M. 1941The vegetation of Roan Mountain: a phytosociological and successional studyEcological Monographs116197Google Scholar
  3. Chazdon, R. L., Colwell, R. K., Denslow, J. S., Guariguata, M. R. 1998Statistical methods for estimating species richness of woody regeneration in primary and secondary rain forests of NE Costa RicaDallmeier, F.Comiskey, J. A. eds. Forest Biodiversity Research, Monitoring and Modeling: Conceptual Background and Old World Case StudiesParthenon PublishingParis285309Google Scholar
  4. Colwell, R. K., 1997. EstimateS: Statistical estimation of species richness and shared species from samples, Version 6. User’s Guide and application published at: http://viceroy.eeb.
  5. Colwell, R. K., Coddington, J. A. 1994Estimating terrestrial biodiversity through extrapolationPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (Series B)345101118Google Scholar
  6. Dastych, H., 1980. Tardigrades from the Tatra National Park. Polska Akademia Nauk Zaklad Zoologii Systematycznej i Doswiadczalnej. Monografie Fauny Polski, Tom 9, 232 ppGoogle Scholar
  7. Dastych, H., 1987. Altitudinal distribution of Tardigrada in Poland. In Bertolani, R. (ed.), Biology of Tardigrades. Selected Symposia and Monographs U.Z.I. Vol. 1. Mucchi, Modena: 169–176Google Scholar
  8. Guidetti, R. 1998Two new species of Macrobiotidae (Tardigrada: Eutardigrada) from the United States of America, and some taxonomic considerations of the genus MurrayonProceedings of the Biological Society of Washington111663673Google Scholar
  9. Guidetti, R., Bertolani, R., Nelson, D. R. 1999Ecological and faunistic studies on tardigrades in leaf litter of beech forestsZoologischer Anzeiger238215223Google Scholar
  10. Hallas, T. E. 1975A mechanical method for the extraction of TardigradaMemorie dell’Instituto Italiano di Idrobiologia32153158Google Scholar
  11. Higgins, R. P. 1960Some tardigrades from the Piedmont of North CarolinaJournal of the Elisha Mitchell Society762935Google Scholar
  12. Kathman, R. D., Cross, S. F. 1991Ecological distribution of moss-dwelling tardigrades on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaCanadian Journal of Zoology69122129Google Scholar
  13. Kathman, R. D. & D. R. Nelson, 1987. Population trends in the aquatic tardigrade Pseudobiotus augusti (Murray). In Bertolani, R. (ed.), Biology of Tardigrades. Selected Symposia and Monographs U.Z.I. Vol. 1. Mucchi, Modena: 155–168Google Scholar
  14. Kendall-Fite, K. & D. R. Nelson, 1996. Two new species of tardigrades from Short Mountain, Tennessee, USA. In McInnes, S. J. & D. B. Norman (eds), Tardigrade Biology. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 116: 205–214Google Scholar
  15. Lee, S.-M., Chao, A. 1994Estimating population size via sample coverage for closed capture-recapture modelsBiometrics508897Google Scholar
  16. Maucci, W., 1987. A contribution to the knowledge of the North American Tardigrada with emphasis on the fauna of Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming). In Bertolani, R. (ed.), Biology of Tardigrades. Selected Symposia and Monographs U.Z.I. Vol. 1. Mucchi, Modena: 187–210Google Scholar
  17. McInnes, S. & J. C. Ellis-Evans, 1987. Tardigrades from maritime Antarctic freshwater lakes. In Bertolani, R. (ed.), Biology of Tardigrades. Selected Symposia and Monographs U.Z.I. Vol. 1. Mucchi, Modena: 111–123Google Scholar
  18. Nelson, D. R., 1975. Ecological distribution of tardigrades on Roan Mountain, Tennessee – North Carolina. In Higgins, R. P. (ed.), International Symposium on Tardigrades. Memorie dell’Instituto Italiano di Idrobiologia 32 (Suppl.): 225–276Google Scholar
  19. Nelson, D. R., Adkins, R. G. 2001Distribution of tardigrades within a moss cushion: Do tardigrades migrate in response to changing moisture conditions?Zoologischer Anzeiger240493500Google Scholar
  20. Nelson, D. R., McGlothlin, K. L. 1993A new species of Hypsibius (Phylum Tardigrada) from Roan Mountain, Tennessee, USATransactions of the American Microscopical Society112140144Google Scholar
  21. Nelson, D. R. & K. L. McGlothlin, 1996. A new species of Calohypsibius (Phylum Tardigrada, Eutardigrada) from Roan Mountain, Tennessee – North Carolina, USA. In McInnes, S. J. & D. B. Norman (eds), Tardigrade Biology. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 116: 167–174Google Scholar
  22. Nelson, D. R., C. J. Kincer & T. C. Williams, 1987. Effects of habitat disturbances on aquatic tardigrade populations. In Bertolani, R. (ed.), Biology of Tardigrades. Selected Symposia and Monographs U.Z.I. Vol. 1. Mucchi, Modena: 141–153Google Scholar
  23. Nelson, D. R., Marley, N. J., Bertolani, R. 1999Re-description of the genus Pseudobiotus (Eutardigrada, Hypsibiidae) and of the new type species Pseudobiotus kathmanae sp.nZoologischer Anzeiger238311317Google Scholar
  24. Riggin, G. T. 1962Tardigrada of southwest Virginia: with the addition of a description of a new marine species from FloridaVirginia Agricultural Experiment Station, Technical Bulletin1521145Google Scholar
  25. Riggin, G. T. 1964Tardigrades from the Southern Appalachian MountainsTransactions of the American Microscopical Society83277282Google Scholar
  26. Rodriguez-Roda, J. 1951Algunos datos sobre la distribucion de los tardigrades espanolesBoletin de la Real Sociedad Espanola Historia de Natural, Seccion Biologica497583Google Scholar
  27. Sanders, H. L. 1968Marine benthic diversity: a comparative studyAmerican Naturalist102243282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sharkey, M. J. 2001The all taxa biological inventory of the Great Smoky Mountains National ParkFlorida Entomologist84556564Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyWarren Wilson CollegeAshevilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesEast Tennessee State UniversityJohnson CityUSA

Personalised recommendations