High elevation, variations in topography, more rainfall than the rest of the state, and cooler temperatures are a few of the reasons Black Mountain in Southeastern Kentucky is one of the most biodiverse areas in the state. The plant and animal species found here are among the most unique on the planet. Adapted from the Kentucky Life biodiversity series, this video looks at why the area is so special in terms of natural significance.
The biodiversity of the region is affected by its location as part of the Appalachian Mountains. The elevation and topography combine to create unique habitats, which are home to species of plants and animals that are not found anywhere else such as the glassy grapeskin snail. These species tend to become isolated in rare habitats, or biomes, such as Black Mountain. These habitats are sometimes referred to as "islands." Species isolated in this way are more likely to evolve into new species because there is less human impact and interaction with other natural regions.
The elevation also plays a role in the temperature and annual rainfall amounts. The hardwood forests on Black Mountain are extremely lush due to cooler temperatures and the average 60 inches of rainfall a year experienced at this higher elevation.
Black Mountain is home to many species of plants and animals that are susceptible to population decline and extinction. This is one of many reasons intense efforts are being made to protect and preserve the region, as well as mitigate the effects of human impact.