Sensitive Beetle Species Spotted for the first time on Olympic Peninsula

Close up of a Bellers Ground Beetle on foliageForest Service Wildlife Biologist Karen Holtrop, in partnership with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and our Student Conservation Association interns Karen Guzman and Conor Cubit, documented the first known site of the Beller’s ground beetle (Agonum belleri) on the Olympic Peninsula! The beetle was found at Cranberry Bog Botanical Area in the Dungeness watershed during preliminary surveys for the species in June 2018. 

Biologist checking a beetle trap.Beller’s ground beetle is listed as a regional Sensitive Species by the Forest Service, and was suspected to occur on the Olympic National Forest but was not confirmed. Species are listed as “Sensitive” when there is a concern regarding the species population numbers/density or their habitat.

Olympic National Forest regularly surveys for wildlife, fish, and botanical species. Surveys are usually done in cooperation with state and federal agencies, tribes, non-government agencies, citizen volunteers, and others. Information gathered in these efforts, including confirming presence of a species and the habitat it utilizes, provides key information on quality/quantity of habitat, and if there is a need to conduct restoration actions. 

wildlife biologist with butterfly net on a hillsideSome recent examples include the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly – a federally endangered species – where native planting in historical habitat on the peninsula has resulted in new occupation of the species. Surveyors also confirmed the presence of the Makah Copper butterfly on the Olympic National Forest!

With declining budgets for many of our partners and the Forest Service, it has been critical to combine efforts to conduct this work.

Beller’s ground beetle information courtesy of the Xerces Society:

Habitat Associations: The Beller’s ground beetle (Agonum belleri) is a wetland-dependent ground beetle species endemic to the Pacific Northwest. It is known from sea level to high elevation mountain areas where it occurs in acidic Sphagnum bogs in forested regions, particularly floating mats of Sphagnum immediately adjacent to open water.

Federal Land: This species is documented on Mt. Hood National Forest; it is probably present on Mt. Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest, and possibly on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Olympic National Forest (now confirmed).

Threats: Include bog habitat destruction from urban development, logging, water-level alteration, peat-mining, pesticide application, and livestock grazing and trampling. Global climate change may also threaten populations by altering bog water levels and seasonal duration periods.

Conservation: Known sites of this species should be managed to protect water quality and quantity as well as the surrounding plant community.