Mist forestfly Lednia tumana
ESA status: candidate for listing
Glacier National Park in Montana is home to an array of majestic wildlife, including elk, bald eagles, mountain lions, wolves, and the largest population of grizzly bears in the lower 48. But we’re shining the spotlight on another creature, humble in size, but large in significance. We’re going to go up to a high-elevation glacial meltwater stream to look for a diminutive insect you will not find anywhere else on earth – the mist forestfly, otherwise known as the meltwater lednian stonefly.
This small invertebrate’s life is intimately tied to the health of the awe-inspiring glaciers and alpine vistas that make up its habitat. Glaciers are extremely sensitive to climate change, as they are directly impacted by altered temperature, precipitation, and cloud cover. The mist forestfly is like a tiny finger placed on the pulse of the alpine environment, and its status is one of our best terrestrial indicators of the effects of climate change.
This stonefly only occurs in glacier-fed streams and alpine springs in Glacier National Park. If Glacier National Park loses its glaciers, as scientists predict will come to pass by 2030, then that could be the end of the mist forestfly and also a tragic loss for the park named for its incredible glacial landscape. WildEarth Guardians intends to fight for protection for the mist forestfly under the Endangered Species Act, not only for its own sake, but in order to push the U.S. and other nations to take immediate, bold action to address the climate crisis and save the crown jewels of our natural world, including Glacier National Park.
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photo credit: Joe Giersch