Melting glaciers at US park threatens rare bug

2014-12-06 07:09
Montana's Glacier National Park.

Montana's Glacier National Park. (Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Montana - The expected disappearance of the famed glaciers at Montana's Glacier National Park by 2030 could spell doom for a rare aquatic insect confined to high mountain streams that are warming due to climate change, US scientists said on Thursday.

The western glacier stonefly lives only in a few streams at Glacier National Park. First identified in 1963, the bug's population has declined sharply along with the park's glaciers, US Geological Survey researchers said in a study.

The stonefly has disappeared from the bulk of its historical range, with sampling by scientists from 2011 to 2013 showing the insect in just one of the six streams it once occupied.

It was also found in two new locations at higher elevations with cooler water, according to the study.

Data collected from 1960 to 2012 shows glaciers at the park, which encompasses more than a million acres on Montana's border with Canada, are likely to disappear by 2030, according to the study.

The rapid melting associated with climate change has, in turn, spurred warming of streams once directly fed by glaciers that have since receded.

The study, led by USGS aquatic entomologist Joe Giersch, is the first to document redistribution of an aquatic keystone species, one that plays a pivotal role in its ecosystem, in the Rockies because of higher temperatures and glacial recession.

Giersch said the stonefly is representative of an entire, unique ecosystem expected to undergo a dramatic alteration linked to climate change. The expected disappearance of the glaciers means fewer alpine streams even at higher elevations.

"Soon there will be nowhere left for the stonefly to go", he said.

The western glacier stonefly is one of two such water bugs endemic to Glacier National Park undergoing review by US fish and wildlife service for endangered species act protections due to glacial loss from climate change.

Read more on:    us  |  insects  |  climate change

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.