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The extensive loss of glaciers in Glacier National Park (GNP) is iconic of the global impacts of climate warming in mountain ecosystems. However, little is known about how climate change may threaten alpine stream species, especially invertebrates, persisting below disappearing snow and ice masses in GNP. Two alpine stream invertebrates – the meltwater stonefly and the glacier stonefly – have been petitioned for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) due to climate-change-induced glacier loss. These cryptic species are found nowhere else in the world, but are restricted to short sections of cold streams fed by disappearing glaciers and permanent snowfields in GNP. Understanding how these species and critical alpine habitats are likely to respond to climate change is critical for conservation management and adaptation planning for freshwater systems undergoing rapid change. This project aims to investigate the current and future impacts of glacier and snow loss on the distribution, abundance, and genetic diversity of the meltwater stonefly and the glacier stonefly and other poorly known alpine aquatic invertebrates persisting below disappearing snow and ice masses in GNP.
The objectives of this project are to:
This project will serve as a worldwide model for understanding the realized impacts of climate warming on mountaintop species and ecosystems; inform policy and management decisions; design long-term monitoring programs; provide additional transformational opportunities for public education and outreach; and develop conservation delivery options in response to climate change and other important cumulative stressors.
Funding: USFWS, USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Center, Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative
Collaborators: James Boyd (USFWS, Helena, Montana), Chris Downs (NPS), Ric Hauer (University of Montana), Gordon Luikart (University of Montana), Scott Hotalling (University of Kentucky)
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West Glacier, Mont. – Two rare alpine insects – native to the northern Rocky Mountains and dependent on cold waters of glacier and snowmelt-fed alpine streams – are imperiled due to climate warming induced glacier and snow loss according to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey and its partners.
The persistence of an already rare aquatic insect, the western glacier stonefly, is being imperiled by the loss of glaciers and increased stream...
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