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Aquatic Macroinvertebrates. What are Aquatic Macroinvertebrates? Macroinvertebrates are small organisms that do not have a backbone. A great diversity.

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Presentation on theme: "Aquatic Macroinvertebrates. What are Aquatic Macroinvertebrates? Macroinvertebrates are small organisms that do not have a backbone. A great diversity."— Presentation transcript:

1 Aquatic Macroinvertebrates

2 What are Aquatic Macroinvertebrates? Macroinvertebrates are small organisms that do not have a backbone. A great diversity of types. Insects Spiders Leeches Snails and clams Worms

3 What are Aquatic Macroinvertebrates? Aquatic macroinvertebrates are those that live in water. The majority of aquatic macroinvertebrates are insects Insects can have three different life stages: larvae, pupae, and adult Which stage is aquatic depends on the type of insect

4 Insect Lifecycles - Incomplete Metamorphosis Some insects do not have a pupae They molt from a larval form to the adult

5 Insect Lifecycles - Complete Metamorphosis

6 What are Aquatic Macroinvertebrates? For most insects it is the larval form that is aquatic Common insect orders that have aquatic larvae but terrestrial adults include Odonata – dragon flies and damselflies Ephemeroptera – Mayflies Plecoptera – Stoneflies Trichoptera – Caddisflies Diptera – Flies and Mosquitos

7 What are Aquatic Macroinvertebrates? Beetles, Order Coleoptera, have both aquatic larvae and adults Interestingly, the pupae are often terrestrial Many of the true bugs, Order Hemiptera, spend their entire life cycle in the water

8 What are Aquatic Macroinvertebrates? While insects are the most common aquatic macroinvertebrates, there is a wide variety of non insect forms Includes members of the Mollusc, Annelid, and Arthropod Phyla to name a few

9 Types of Aquatic Macroinvertebrates


11 I. Molluscs A. The Phylum Mollusca is the second largest animal phylum in terms of number of species While most species are marine (saltwater), two groups are common in North Dakota Clams or mussels (bivalves) – not usually found in wetlands Snails (gastropods)

12 I. Molluscs B. Gastropods – the snails Several different kinds Common snails in wetlands include the genus Physa


14 II. Annelida A. Class Hirudinea – The Leeches Several different types Usually considered indicators of poorer water quality Probably some exceptions to this Characterized by suckers on both the anterior and posterior end Also called blood suckers

15 II. Annelida Many are ectoparasites that feed on a blood meal They attach to their host, inject an anticoagulant and an anesthetic This allows them to feed on a blood meal usually undetected There are some species that are vegetarians and some that are scavengers

16 II. Annelida B. Class Oligochaeta Aquatic worms - small segmented worms that live in the bottom sediments of rivers, streams, lakes, and marshes Actually quite a few different kinds Often overlooked because of their small size Tubifex worms are often used for fish food

17 Oligochaetes

18 III. The Arthropods Include the insects, crsutaceans, and others Largest group of aquatic macroinvertebrates

19 Aquatic Insects

20 Aquatic insects There is a great diversity of insect species that are aquatic Many have an aquatic larval stage, but the adult has wings and lives in the habitat near water A few groups have an entire life cycle in the water

21 Aquatic insects A. Order Ephemeroptera - Mayflies Larvae are aquatic Spend the majority of their life as larvae Adults are short lived – 24 – 48 hours Where the term Ephemeroptera comes from - ephemeral

22 Aquatic insects Many different roles and adaptations Some cling to rocks, others burrow, and some swim Usually considered indicators of good water quality

23 Burrowing mayflies Hexagenia limbata Usually found in the bottoms sediments

24 The small squaregills

25 Aquatic insects B. Order Trichoptera - Caddisflies Larval and pupal forms are aquatic Considered to be indicators of good to moderate water quality In many of the species the larvae form elaborate cases that they live in

26 Aquatic insects Larvae can often be identified by the following features Usually live in a case Have two “legs” on the back of their abdomen These have hooks that the animal uses to anchor itself

27 Longhorned Case maker- Ceraclea sp.

28 Northern Case maker larvae with case

29 Aquatic insects C. Diptera – Flies and Mosquitoes Larval and pupal stages are aquatic Wide variety – some indicators of good water quality, others indicate poor water quality Larvae do not have legs – most are wormlike with very strange features

30 Crane Fly Larvae

31 Mosquito – Aedes sp.

32 Aquatic insects D. Order Hemiptera – True bugs Spend their entire life cycle in the water – although many can fly and migrate Mouthparts consist of a tube used for sucking Many are predators

33 Mesoveliidae Gerridae Hebridae

34 Giant water bugs

35 Water Boatman

36 Aquatic insects E. Order Odonata – Dragonflies and Damselflies Larval forms (called nymphs or naiads) are aquatic Both larvae and adults are predators

37 III. Aquatic insects Both damselfly and dragonfly larvae have a prehensile jaw that they can use to spear prey Damselfly larvae are usually thinner, have three caudal gills Dragonfly larvae have a stouter body, caudal appendages are much reduced

38 Dragonfly Larvae

39 Jaws of Dragon fly larvae

40 Odonata Adults Dragonfly adult Damselfly adult

41 Aquatic insects F. Order Coleoptera – Aquatic Beetles Beetles are the most diverse group of animals on earth Many forms are aquatic One of the few groups where both larvae and adults are aquatic While some are considered to have little value in water quality determination, others are useful

42 Chrysomelidae Most members of this group are terrestrial Do not have many obvious adaptations for aquatic life Found mainly on aquatic vegetation

43 Haliplidae – Crawling water beetles Small aquatic beetles Crawl around on submerged vegetation and debris Top picture – adult Bottom picture - larvae

44 Gyrinidae – Whirlygig beetles Often found buzzing around on waters surface Unique in that they have two sets of eyes

45 Dytiscidae – Predaceous diving beetles Many different types found in wetlands Both adults and larvae are aquatic Both adults and larvae are predators

46 Dytiscidae – Predaceous diving beetles – Example adult

47 Dytiscidae – Predaceous diving beetles – Example larvae


49 IV. Other Arthropods A. Order Amphipoda – Scuds (see picture on previous slide) Can be very common in some areas One type, the genus Gammarus, is found primarily in lakes and marshes Larger of the two types found in ND An important forage food for fish in Devils Lake

50 IV. Other Arthropods B. Order Decapoda – the Crayfish Common inhabitants of rivers, streams, and lakes Only a couple of species in North Dakota Crayfish usually feed at night and are primarily scavengers Fairly short lived with a life span usually of 2 years or less

51 Crayfish

52 IV. Other Arthropods C. Class Branchiopoda – the water fleas, clam shrimp, fairly shrimp, and others Water fleas are commonly known as Daphnia Usually found in lentic waters Their body is covered by a carapace They can be an important part of the food chain in aquatic ecosystems

53 Daphnia

54 Fairy Shrimp

55 Clam Shrimp

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