A diverse team of international scientists led by a Washington State University graduate student are trekking the high peaks of the greater Glacier National Park ecosystem this summer to better understand a tiny but important food source for grizzly bears—the army cutworm moth.

Daniel Thornton.

Erik Peterson, a master’s student in the School of the Environment, partnered with Daniel Thornton, WSU professor in the School of the Environment, and seven colleagues to collect data, map, and model the alpine habitats where grizzlies forage on moths by the thousands, finding calorie-rich meals in mid-summer.

“Glacier National Park is a grizzly mecca,” said Peterson, a former field biologist for the park. Glacier is a microcosm for the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, which includes Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada, and Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park in British Columbia and is home to as many as 1,000 bears.

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