Vol. 38 (2015)
Research Project Ecology

Characterizing Biodiversity of Alpine Streams in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Lusha M. Tronstad
University of Wyoming
Scott Hotaling
University of Kentucky
J. Joseph Giersch
USGS Glacier National Park
Debra S. Finn
Oregon State University
Oliver J. Wilmot
University of Wyoming
Mark D. Anderson
University of Wyoming

Published 2015-01-01


The highest rate of climate change is occurring in alpine areas above permanent treeline. The Teton Mountains in northwestern Wyoming are one of these ecosystem and little work has been done on alpine streams in the area. We sampled 6 streams in the Teton Mountains in 2015 at both upper and lower sites. We measured environmental variables (e.g., glacierality index, basic water quality, and temperature), aquatic invertebrate assemblages and microbial diversity. The water sources for sampled streams were glacier-fed, snowmelt and icy-seep. Aquatic invertebrate density (116-11,523 ind/m2) and biomass (31-21,704 mg/m2) varied greatly among streams. Snowmelt streams had the highest biomass of invertebrates, but the density and richness did not differ among stream types. Micrbial diversity in groundwater-fed springs harbored higher diversity than glacier-fed streams. The discovery of an icy-seep stream type lead us to sample rock glacier in the Teton Mountains during 2016. We hope to continue to sample alpine streams in the Teton Mountains to understand how climate change will alter streams of different types.