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Butterflies of Glacier National Park, Montana


In 1987 I initiated a 3-yr project to establish an inventory and monitoring program for biodiversity of birds and butterflies (Debinski, 1991). As part of this project, butterfly species diversity was sampled throughout a range of habitat types in Glacier National Park, Montana. The data gathered were compared with two earlier species lists—one compiled by John Garth in 1955 (pers. comm.) and a second compiled by Steve Kohler (1980)—to identify trends in species richness.

Glacier National Park lies at the northwestern edge of Montana and is one of the most pristine national parks in the U.S. The large variety of habitats in the Park are in part the result of the Park's position relative to the continental divide, which bisects it in a north-south direction. Elevations of sites in Glacier National Park range between 1097 and 3048 m. The west side of the park is a temperate rainforest with stands of cedar-hemlock (Thuja plicata-Tsuga heterophylla), spruce-fir (Picea englemanii-Pseudotsuga menziesii), and lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta). The east side is drier and windier and is characterized by aspen (Populus tremuloides) parklands and sagebrush (Artemesia tridentata) meadows. Habitat types include alpine meadows, bogs, rocky ridges, riparian corridors, low-elevation meadows, ponderosa pine stands, and forests dominated by lodgepole pine, spruce-fir, and cedar-hemlock.

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