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Montana Salmonfly Research Group

The salmonfly (Pteronarcys californica) is a large-bodied aquatic insect that lives in rivers for 3 to 5 years before emerging onto land as an adult. The salmonflyhatch is iconic, drawing anglers from around the world, and represents a major connection between water and land. During the hatch, salmonflies are a critical food source for trout, birds, and many other predators. Salmonflies are threatened by human activities however; threats to salmonflies and other stoneflies include warming water temperature, increasing fine sediment,and changesto suitable flows and food supply. We study factors that influence salmonfly populations and their emergence patterns, with a focus on the Madison and Gallatin Rivers in southwestern Montana. In collaboration with researchers across Montana and beyond, we use historical records, field studies, and lab experiments to link knowledge of salmonfly ecology with potential conservation strategies to help maintain populationsof this incredibleinsect into the future.


Example publications

Check out the publications page for additional information.

  • Roche, A., L. K. Albertson, A. A. Shah, and C. E. Verhille. In review. Cross boundary temperature regimes and their effects on giant salmonfly (Pteronarcys californica) emergence and adult lifespan.

  • Verhille, C. E., M. J. MacDonald, B. Noble, G. Demorest, A. Roche, K. Frazier, and L. K. Albertson. In review. Thermal tolerance of giant salmonflies (Pteronarcys californica) varies across populations in a regulated river. 

  • Albertson,  L. K., M. A. Briggs, Z. Maguire, S. Swart, W. F. Cross, C. W. Twining, J. S. Wesner, C. Baxter, and D. M. Walters. 2022. Dietary composition and fatty acid content of giant salmonflies (Pteronarcys californica) in two Rocky Mountain rivers. Ecosphere 13(1):e3904. [View as PDF]

  • Anderson, H. E., L. K. Albertson, and D. M. Walters. 2019. Thermal variability drives synchronicity of an aquatic insect resource pulse. Ecosphere 10(8):e02852. [View as PDF]
  • Anderson, H. E., L. K. Albertson, and D. M. Walters. 2019. Water temperature drives variability in salmonfly abundance, emergence timing, and body size. River Research and Applications 35(7):1013-1022. [View as PDF]


     Salmonfly emergence     Salmonfly larva on woody debris

Current collaborators

Dr. Lindsey Albertson, Montana State University

Dr. Colden Baxter, Idaho State University

Dr. Jackson Birrell, The Salmonfly Project

Dr. Wyatt Cross, Montana State University

Michael MacDonald, Montana State University

Zach Maguire, Montana State University

Dr. Rachel Malison, Flathead Lake Biological Station

Dr. Jamie McEvoy, Montana State University

Jade Ortiz, Montana State University

Alzada Roche, Montana State University

Dr. Alisha Shah, Kellog Biological Station

David Stagliano, Montana Biological Survey

Dr. Lily Twining, Eawag

Dr. Christine Verhille, Montana State University

Dr. David Walters, USGS

Dr. Jeff Wesner, University of South Dakota

Dr. Art Woods, University of Montana

Past collaborators

Heidi Anderson

Michelle Briggs

Dan McGuire

Jose Sanchez-Ruiz