Glacier National Park Insects Habitat: Climate Change Threatens Stoneflies

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Glacier National Park’s habitat for two rare insects could be saved if a new proposal by the U.S. wildlife officials is accepted. This week, it was revealed that habitats of two rare insects – the stonefly and the meltwater lednian stonefly – are vanishing. The experts believe that climate change is the reason why the insects are in danger.

The meltwater lednian stonefly is a small dark-colored insect that mates throughout the year. There is little information about the species other than the fact they are found in extremely cold glacier-fed streams at high elevations in Glacier Park. Moreover, they might disappear because the glaciers are melting.

In 2011, the insects were placed on the list of “candidate species” under the Endangered Species Act. There are an estimated 3,500 species stoneflies, also known as Plecoptera, in the world. While stoneflies can survive in polluted water, their presence in a stream is an indicator of good or excellent water quality.

Jonathan “Joe” Giersch, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey tracking the stoneflies’ decline, said he believes the Glacier National Park’s glaciers will melt away by 2030. Giersch blamed the warmer temperatures destroying the glaciers on climate change.

Giersch said he projects the same declines in habitat for the meltwater lednian stonefly. The researcher said:

“They’re indicative of the health of the alpine community. The glaciers really are the water towers for the continent. That affects not just the fish but other aquatic species in river and steams, and not just in high alpine areas but down in drainages.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated that in 2017 they will decide on whether or not to add the insects to the government’s list of threatened species.

Meanwhile, scientists have no clear plans on how to preserve the insects. Some biologists have come up with the idea of raising stoneflies in laboratories “and seeding different streams with them.”

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