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10 October 2016

The Plight of Glacier Stoneflies Could Have Severe Impact on Local Ecosystems

It’s no secret that global warming looks set to have a widespread and catastrophic effect on the animal populations of our planet. In fact it’s already beginning. Awareness and fundraising campaigns tend to focus on the larger species; penguins and polar bears are, after all, adorable, but they are far from being the only species at risk.

Often overlooked due to their small size and undesirable nature, the insect species of the world are also struggling against the escalating effects of global warming, and perhaps none are more affected than the Glacier Stonefly.

As its name suggests, this species is heavily dependent upon the presence of glaciers and a consistently cold climate for its survival. As temperatures continue to rise and glaciers recede at an ever-increasing rate (estimates suggest they could entirely disappear within two decades), the Glacier Stonefly’s future looks decidedly uncertain.

As one of the few species stated by experts to be directly threatened by climate change (others may be threatened by global warming to some extent but are not listed as such due to the presence of other primary threats), authorities are now beginning to take notice and seek a status of ‘endangered’ for the stonefly. This applies specifically to two distinct species – the Meltwater Lednian Stonefly and the Western Glacier Stonefly - with those involved hoping that the official status will help in conservation efforts.

In this case, the conservation of one species will have a positive knock-on effect for many. This is because wherever they are found, Glacier Stoneflies play a vital role in the local ecosystem, forming the base of the entire food chain. So, if populations of the species decline substantially, the effects will be felt by just about every species in the area as their food supply slowly dwindles. There’s no telling how many individual species could be put at risk by such an event, but obviously it’s a scenario we would rather avoid.

Specialists are currently scrambling to find a way to preserve the Glacier Stonefly should climate change reach the worst-case scenario. So far, the suggested solutions all focus on relocating the populations, either to another region where conditions are better suited to them, or to an artificial environment created in a lab.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.