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Southern Appalachians

Last updated over 2 years ago

The Southern Appalachians are an ancient, topographically diverse mountain range in the eastern United States from Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains and the southern escarpment of the Blue Ridge in the south. They include the highest peak east of the Mississippi river, Mount Mitchell in the Black Mountains.

The Southern Appalachians are one of the most biologically diverse regions in the temperate zone. They are home to nearly 10,000 identified species, including many endemic species that are found nowhere else in the world, with new species still being discovered. More than 2,000 species of vascular plants make it one of the most botanically diverse temperate regions in the world. They are also famous for their high diversity in fungi, mosses, liverworts, snails, freshwater mussels, spiders, millipedes, moths, beetles, freshwater fishes and salamanders.

The mountains provide a wide array of habitats and microhabitats for both flora and fauna:
- nearly 2,300 species of fungi identified (up to 20,000 estimated)
- over 1,400 native wildflowers
- over 500 moss and fern species
- over 460 species of arachnids identified (over 800 estimated)
- over 230 species of millipedes
- over 100 species of mollusks, most of them land snails
- over 100 native trees
- more salamander species than anywhere else in the world, presently 47 described species and 6 that are new to science

References:
- Highlands Nature Center
- Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Institute
- Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservatory

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