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Butterflies of Glacier National Park, Montana


Species Richness Through Time

Fifty-six of the 89 butterfly species historically known to occur in the park were found during the 1 July-9 September 1987 censusing (Appendix). Because field work did not begin until 30 June in 1987, several of the early species are not represented. Earlier censusing (beginning 1 June) in 1988 and 1989 resulted in slight increases in the numbers of species sighted (69 and 65, respectively). Two species (Lycaena hyllus and Nymphalis californica) absent from both the Kohler and Garth lists were found in 1987; four additional species (Callophrys sheridanii, Vanessa carye annabella, Satyrium saepium and Neophasia menapia) were found in 1988, and three more species were found in 1989 (Callophrys polios, Speyeria aphrodite and Danaus plexippus). Due to taxonomic changes, some taxa previously recognized as species are now recognized as subspecies. Thus, the total number of taxa observed during the 3-yr censusing was 84 and the new taxa total for the Park is 97. Habitat preferences as observed in this research are noted in Appendix I. Species dependent upon rare habitats (e.g., Euphydryas gillettii or Colias nastes) may be over-represented in this database because of my over-representation of rare habitats.

On comparing the results of this study with the Garth and Kohler records, I noted that all but three of the species on Kohler's list had been sighted within the last decade and most had been seen within the past few years. Colias pelidne and Everes comyntas had not been sighted since 1935 and Papilio bairdii had not been observed since 1950. Polygonia comma and Papilio glaucus are included on Kohler's list, but are eastern species. Because P. comma probably is a misidentification, it was removed from the list. Papilio canadensis previously was considered to be a subspecies of P. glaucus. Colias alexandra is quite scarce in western Montana; most records of this taxon are C. occidentalis columbiensis (Steve Kohler, pers. comm.).


Application of a G-test to the 1988 and 1989 butterfly data revealed several statistically significant differences (Appendix). There were significant changes in the occurrence of 24 of the 97 taxa between 1988 and 1989; 15 species increased in abundance in 1988 and nine in 1989.
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