UM researcher studies effects of climate change on Montana’s aquatic ecosystems


From the highest peaks of Glacier National Park to the trout streams in the valleys below, scientist Clint Muhlfeld looks at the big picture when it comes to mountain ecosystems and how they’re being affected by climate change.

The aquatic ecologist for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center and associate professor at the University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Station recently published a study that landed in the prestigious journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

The research looked at biodiversity of aquatic invertebrates, or insects, living in the cold meltwater below the park’s receding glaciers. The decade-long study sent Muhlfeld and his team into some of the most remote and uncharted alpine areas of the park to gather data.

 “The really cool thing about this research is we were going and sampling the unknown,” he said. “There’s very little information out there in terms of our understanding of the biodiversity in these high elevation mountain landscapes and how those patterns are being shaped by the loss of glaciers and these climatic changes.”