An encroaching mountain thunderstorm

Submission 2024

A large meadow with lush green grass and purple wildflowers. In the backdrop are mountains experiencing a thunderstorm.
Submitted by:Leah Jackson
Department:Biological Sciences

I study butterflies, which are highly influenced by their habitat. During my MSc fieldwork, I took photos of every new location I was collecting at. In 2022, while in a bison paddock in Waterton Lakes National Park, I finally caught my goal specimen, a perfectly intact Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly. This butterfly gave me the genetic data to decern how Pleistocene glacial refugia shaped this butterfly’s modern populations. However, I was so caught up in the excitement of catching this butterfly that I failed to notice the large thunderstorm rolling in from the south. As I was running back to my truck, I snapped a picture of the bison paddock so I could include it in my field notes. To my surprise when I checked my photos later that night, I not only captured an important butterfly, but I captured its habitat and the thunderstorm in a single photo.

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