Climate change could have a butterfly effect on Mount Rainier.
As winters warm, trees could invade meadows, plants could emerge from snow past the time butterfly larvae look to feed on them.
It occurs to Western Washington University Associate Professor John McLaughlin that a good record of butterflies on the mountain could document climate change.
The Seattle Times reports he embarked on a 90-mile hike last week around the mountain on the Wonderland Trail with a butterfly net.
McLaughlin is creating a baseline and expects future monitoring of Mount Rainier butterflies will reveal climate change. He says some species should adapt but others may go extinct.