Dr. Riley Nelson, Brigham Young University, Department of Biology
Co-sponsored by EEB / EEOB
Abstract. Stoneflies (Plecoptera) are aquatic insects with general attributes attractive to scientists and members of the general public. They are among the most sensitive of freshwater macroinvertebrates to anthropogenic environmental changes (chemical pollution, organic enrichment, heat pollution, etc.) and are used as indicator species of desirable water conditions by managers of freshwater worldwide. This sensitivity also makes many of their populations susceptible to extinction/extirpation/speciation in local areas on geologic time scales. This coincides in many species with winglessness, so long-distance dispersal is not possible to escape environmental problems. Thus they are model organisms for studies of vicariance biogeography as well as “canaries in the mine shaft” of studies of climate change. Furthermore, stoneflies live in streams favored by fish species like trout and some bass that fishermen adore, and they exhibit life cycles and habitat choices relevant in evolutionary models of specialization and speciation. In this talk loaded with beautiful images I will summarize the generalities and highlight the more extremophile habits of these interesting organisms.