Stoneflies mapped across Ohio, with implications for water quality and nature conservation

Apr 12, 2012
The Spinyleg Willowfly, Taeniopteryx maura (Pictet) is a common inhabitant of clear brooks in southern and eastern Ohio. Note the spur on the male’s hind leg that gives the species its common name. Credit: Dr. R. Edward DeWalt

Stoneflies, or Plecoptera, are insects that live in water during immature stages, but are terrestrial as adults. They are among the best bioindicators of river water quality and general landscape disturbance. Anglers often model their dry and wet flies (lures) after these insects.

Scientists at the University of Illinois and Western Kentucky University, funded by the USA National Science Foundation, have completed the first ever statewide assessment of stonefly diversity in Ohio. The study has been published in the open-access journal ZooKeys.

The team used over 30,000 gathered from 18 regional museums (Illinois Natural History Survey, Brigham Young University, Ohio State University) and from new sampling for the analysis. They determined that at least 102, but possibly as high as 120 occur in Ohio. The majority of species were found to have evolved to survive warm summer and even drought, most similar to the stoneflies found in the neighboring states of Indiana and Kentucky. Analyses demonstrated that the greatest number of species lived in the eastern half of the state where forest cover is greatest.

This study provides important conservation information. The researchers found that over 17% of the species were rare, being known from only one or two locations. One of these species, the Atlantic Needlefly, Leuctra duplicata Claassen), is known only from two adjacent springbrooks in northeast Ohio. This information will help Ohio organizations to prioritize species and high quality streams for greater protection. Several other species were known from historical records, but have not been collected in the last 50-60 years. These species have long life cycles (1-2 years), a that increases their risk for local extinction. One example is a species that occurred in the larger rivers of Ohio, the Enigmatic Stone, Attaneuria ruralis (Hagen).

The scientists plan to use the data from Ohio and other states in the region to predict where species will be found and how climate change will affect the distribution of these environmentally sensitive insects in the future.

Explore further: Mussels on California Coast contaminated with giardia transmitted from land-based sources

More information: DeWalt RE, Cao Y, Tweddale T, Grubbs SA, Hinz L, Pessino M, Robinson JL (2012) Ohio USA stoneflies (Insecta, Plecoptera): species richness estimation, distribution of functional niche traits, drainage affiliations, and relationships to other states. ZooKeys 178: 1-26. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.178.2616

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Glacier-fed river systems threatened by climate change

Mar 16, 2012

Glacial meltwater increases biodiversity in mountainous freshwater ecosystems. As glaciers vanish due to global warming, so will those species dependent upon the icy runoff. This is the conclusion of a study authored by researchers ...

Great Lakes compact languishes

Apr 07, 2008

Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio are holding up work by lawmakers in six states on a compact covering Great Lakes water, environmentalists say.

New insect on Balearic Islands

Jul 15, 2009

After 10 years of biochemical and molecular analysis of the Tyrrhenoleuctra plecoptera that live in the Western Mediterranean, Spanish and Italian scientists have now demonstrated that one of the insect popula ...

Recommended for you

Is fleet diversity key to sustainable fisheries?

21 hours ago

Concern about fisheries is widespread around the world. Over the past several decades, a robust discussion has taken place concerning how to manage fisheries better to benefit ecosystems and humans. Much of the discussion ...

Strange, fanged deer persists in Afghanistan

22 hours ago

More than 60 years after its last confirmed sighting, a strange deer with vampire-like fangs still persists in the rugged forested slopes of northeast Afghanistan according to a research team led by the Wildlife ...

Captive rhinos exposed to urban rumbles

23 hours ago

The soundtrack to a wild rhinoceros's life is wind passing through the savannah grass, birds chirping, and distant animals moving across the plains. But a rhinoceros in a zoo listens to children screaming, cars passing, and ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.