M.S. 2002. Entomology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
B.S. 1994. The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA
Joe Giersch is an aquatic entomologist for the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center of the U.S. Geological Survey. He is stationed at Glacier National Park, Montana. Joe’s research interests have focused on the taxonomy, systematics, ecology and biogeography of alpine aquatic insects, and stem from an interest in invertebrate morphology and field biology. This work has resulted in the association and description of unknown life stages of rarely studied alpine caddisflies, as well as investigations into the factors contributing to the isolation and speciation of rare macroinvertebrates in alpine stream and spring habitats.
Science and Products
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...
Integrated bioassessment of imperiled alpine aquatic ecosystems using NPS vital signs and USGS research data: Implications for conservation under a warming climate
Climate warming in the mid- to high-latitudes and high-elevation mountainous regions is occurring more rapidly than anywhere else on Earth, causing extensive loss of glaciers and snowpack. The loss of glaciers in Glacier National Park (GNP) is iconic of the combined impacts of global warming and reduced snowpack−all remaining 25 glaciers are predicted to disappear by 2030. These changes will...
Demographic modelling reveals a history of divergence with gene flow for a glacially tied stonefly in a changing post-Pleistocene landscape
AimClimate warming is causing extensive loss of glaciers in mountainous regions, yet our understanding of how glacial recession influences evolutionary processes and genetic diversity is limited. Linking genetic structure with the influences shaping it can improve understanding of how species respond to environmental change. Here, we used genome-...Hotaling, Scott; Muhlfeld, Clint C.; Giersch, J. Joseph; Ali, Omar; Jordan, Steve; Miller, Michael R.; Luikart, Gordon; Weisrock, David W.
Climate change and alpine stream biology: progress, challenges, and opportunities for the future
In alpine regions worldwide, climate change is dramatically altering ecosystems and affecting biodiversity in many ways. For streams, receding alpine glaciers and snowfields, paired with altered precipitation regimes, are driving shifts in hydrology, species distributions, basal resources, and threatening the very existence of some habitats and...Hotaling, Scott; Finn, Debra S.; Giersch, J. Joseph; Weisrock, David W.; Jacobsen, Dean
Climate-induced glacier and snow loss imperils alpine stream insects
Climate warming is causing rapid loss of glaciers and snowpack in mountainous regions worldwide. These changes are predicted to negatively impact the habitats of many range-restricted species, particularly endemic, mountaintop species dependent on the unique thermal and hydrologic conditions found only in glacier-fed and snowmelt-driven alpine...Giersch, J. Joseph; Hotaling, Scott; Kovach, Ryan; Jones, Leslie A.; Muhlfeld, Clint C.
Loss of genetic diversity and increased subdivision in an endemic Alpine Stonefly threatened by climate change
Much remains unknown about the genetic status and population connectivity of high-elevation and high-latitude freshwater invertebrates, which often persist near snow and ice masses that are disappearing due to climate change. Here we report on the conservation genetics of the meltwater stonefly Lednia tumana (Ricker) of Montana, USA, a cold-water...Jordan, Steve; Giersch, J. Joseph; Muhlfeld, Clint C.; Hotalling, Scott; Fanning, Liz; Tappenbeck, Tyler H.; Luikart, Gordon
Climate-induced range contraction of a rare alpine aquatic invertebrate
Climate warming poses a serious threat to alpine-restricted species worldwide, yet few studies have empirically documented climate-induced changes in distributions. The rare stonefly, Zapada glacier (Baumann and Gaufin), endemic to alpine streams of Glacier National Park (GNP), Montana, was recently petitioned for listing under the US...Giersch, J. Joseph; Jordan, Steve; Luikart, Gordon; Jones, Leslie A.; Hauer, F. Richard; Muhlfeld, Clint C.
A new species of in the Rhyacophila vagrita group (Trichoptera: Rhyacophilidae) from Olympic National Park, Washington, USA.
Rhyacophila vagrita Milne, 1936 was described from specimens collected in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada. Ross (1950), while examining R. vagrita paratypes from Alberta, discovered four males that did not fi t the R. vagrita description. These he described and named R. milnei Ross, 1950. Ross (1956) established the R. vagrita group for R....Lee, Jonathan J; Giersch, J. Joseph
Thermal tolerance of meltwater stonefly Lednia tumana nymphs from an alpine stream in Waterton–Glacier International Peace Park, Montana, USA
Global climate change threatens to affect negatively the structure, function, and diversity of aquatic ecosystems worldwide. In alpine systems, the thermal tolerances of stream invertebrates can be assessed to understand better the potential effects of rising ambient temperatures and continued loss of glaciers and snowpack on alpine stream...Billman, Hilary G. ; Giersch, J. Joseph; Kappenman, K.M.; Muhlfeld, Clint C.; Webb, Molly A. H.
Climate change links fate of glaciers and an endemic alpine invertebrate
Climate warming in the mid- to high-latitudes and high-elevation mountainous regions is occurring more rapidly than anywhere else on Earth, causing extensive loss of glaciers and snowpack. However, little is known about the effects of climate change on alpine stream biota, especially invertebrates. Here, we show a strong linkage between regional...Muhlfeld, Clint C.; Giersch, J. Joseph; Hauer, F. Richard; Pederson, Gregory T.; Luikart, Gordon; Peterson, Douglas P.; Downs, Christopher C.; Fagre, Daniel B.
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 temperatures due to climate warming in mountain ecosystems, according to a new study released in Freshwater Science.