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There are so many acronyms on your site! What is a “DLIA?”
DLIA stands for Discover Life in America, a small nonprofit based in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is our goal to learn all we can about the unique ecosystem of the Smokies by bringing top scientists into the park. We also want to do all we can to make this information available to the public through fun educational and citizen-science events.
Ok, so what is an “ATBI?”
ATBI stands for the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory, an effort managed by DLIA (working with the National Park Service) to identify and monitor all of the estimated 100,000 species of life in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. So far, we only know about 17,000 of them. We have a long way to go. Click here to see our most up-to-date tally!
So how are all these letters related? Is DLIA the ATBI?
Not really. The ATBI is a tremendously large research program, so large that the National Park couldn’t devote the time and resources necessary to start and maintain it. DLIA was founded as a non-profit to secure the funding and organize the scientists to begin this ambitious effort. DLIA, however, is not limited to those jobs. We also put on educational programs for children and adults examining biodiversity and natural history, create opportunities for interested folks to go into the park and learn while assisting scientists, and present an annual conference of scientific findings related to the ATBI.
Ok, so DLIA organizes the ATBI, and the ATBI counts bugs and salamanders and stuff. Why is this important?
The ATBI is more than just identifying and counting species of life. It is about understanding habitats, ecosystems, and relationships between species. We know so little about the web of life, and so many species are disappearing forever. The more we understand about the natural world, the better equipped we are to preserve and maintain it.
This sounds like important work. How can I help?
We thought you’d never ask! If you have some spare time, we love working with volunteers. Check out our volunteer page to read about all the different jobs you can help with. Or, if you’d rather, we couldn’t continue to fund scientists without your tax-deductible contributions. The support us page lists all our options for gift giving. Also, you can support us just by coming to our events and having fun. Look at our upcoming events on the website frontpage to see what’s coming up next.
I don’t live in the Smokies. Are there other ATBIs that I could be a part of?
Of course! Lots of other Parks, Wilderness Areas, and National Monuments from Maine to Texas are following DLIA’s lead and organizing biodiversity inventories. For a list of ATBIs across the US, visit the ATBI Alliance. They love volunteers and support as much as we do!