Document Type

Glacier National Park

First Page


Last Page



Monitoring of the natural resources available in parks is necessary to allow the National Park Service to develop long term management strategies for preservation of those resources for future generations. To this end, personnel at Glacier National Park (GLAC) determined that it was necessary to identify populations of plant species that might serve as indicators of environmental change. Preliminary data on locations of populations of sensitive plants was obtained by the park from work done by Lesica (1984). However, basic life history data on these species bad not been collected and made available to park personnel in such a manner as to interface with existing park data bases. The acquisition of such data was seen as a necessary step in developing a baseline data base that park personnel could use to base future assessments of biological change within the park. The objective of the research described in this final report was to obtain basic life history data from the literature for 52 species of plant populations in GLAC judged to be rare or endangered, and hence potentially sensitive to changes-in the biological and environmental conditions in the park. To accomplish this objective, we used the list of rare plant species given by Lesica (1984; Table 1 of this report) with recent additions by the Montana Natural Heritage Program (1990) as the basis of a literature search to determine the basic life history attributes of each species. We used these data and the locations of populations of each species to document the spatial distribution of the different ecological groups represented by the rare flora of the park. This suggested that park personnel should focus on continued attempts to assess potential ecological changes in response to changes in the global climate induced by human activity. We suggest that the park take an active role in establishing permanent vegetation plots for monitoring changes in these sensitive plant populations. One such study (Lesica and McCune 1989) is already in progress.