Morphological variation in adult aquatic insects: associations with developmental temperature and seasonal growth patterns

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Journal of the North American Benthological Society



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Morphological variation, adult aquatic insects, developmental temperature, seasonal growth patterns

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To test the hypothesis that a general relationship exists between morphology and developmental temperature, we quantified morphological variation in six species of aquatic insects. We examined three holometabolous species (Trichoptera: Dolophilodes dorcus, Rhyacophila vaccua, and Neophylax splendens) and three hemimetabolous species (Plecoptera: Malenka cornuta, Despaxia augusta, and Eucapnosis brevicauda) that differed in type of life cycle, maximum size, and timing of emergence. Body size was inversely related to temperature for three species (r = -0.40 to -0.71) but not for the other three (r = -0.09 to -0.24). Those species showing a relationship between size and temperature emerged in summer following periods of increasing temperature. The other species emerged either during late spring following a period of relatively constant temperature or during the period of declining temperature in autumn. Color and meristic variation showed no pattern of association with temperature across species. A development rate model of temperature-dependent growth appears to predict patterns for species with simple life-history patterns. However, the model fails to predict patterns for species with more complex life histories. We suggest that timing of growth and diapause may interact with temperature to affect observed individual size. Morphological Variation in Adult Aquatic Insects: Associations with Developmental Temperature and Seasonal Growth Patterns. Available from: [accessed Jul 10, 2015].

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