A large database now exists for tardigrades in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) consisting of 780 samples, 15,618 specimens, and 80 species including 14 new to science. We found 43 species of tardigrades in 150 soil/leaf litter samples. We calculated the Chao 1 species richness estimate with the species accumulation curve for the GSMNP and confirmed that our species list is virtually complete. Compared with soil data from mt. Fuji, Japan, estimated species richness in GSMNP was significantly higher. In our comparison of previous studies of soil/leaf litter tardigrades in other geographic areas, only the Kanagawa prefecture of Japan reported a higher number of species (47) than the GSMNP. Species richness estimators are valuable tools for comparing diversity in different habitats, even when sampling effort varies between studies.
soil ecology, leaf litter ecology, species diversity, species richness, community composition, biodiversity