Still today, little is known on how this remarkable diversity arose. Scientists of the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden and the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) in Berlin therefore investigated the potential of aquatic insects for research on diversification. The results have now been published in the renowned Annual Review for Entomology.
A typical karst spring and stream in the western Balkan Peninsula that is home to a microendemic caddisfly species of the genus Drusus.
© Ana Previsic
Freshwaters cover less than 1% of the Earth’s surface, but harbour 10% of all animal. Six out of ten of currently known species are insects. In a recently published review an international team of researchers from the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), the Biodiversity Center in Leiden, and the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) in Berlin analyzed how studying the vast diversity of aquatic insects may contribute to a better understanding of diversification processes.
„Analyzing the reasons behind the disproportionately high degree of aquatic insect diversity relative to the little area covered by freshwaters may help us to better understand species diversification“, specifies Dr. Steffen Pauls, leader of a junior research group at the BiK-F and one of the authors of the review. All aquatic insect groups are the result of the invasion of freshwaters by terrestrial groups: „Although belonging to only 12 orders, aquatic insects may represent more than 50 separate invasions“, explains co-author Dr. Klaas-Douwe Dijkstra from the Naturalis Biodiversity Center Leiden.
The ecology and habitat preferences of many aquatic insect groups have been intensively studied, due to their roles as disease vectors or bioindicators for water quality. But as this research is mostly done in a purely ecological context, these species are underrepresented in evolutionary studies. „And even inside the entomological community, there is often a lack of communication between experts on different groups of insects. So we hope this review will stimulate more exchange and promote interdisciplinary research “, Dijkstra points out.
He who lives in a safe home, doesn’t need to moveEcological diversity results from a complex set of environmental influences. One important factor affecting diversification is habitat stability. The researchers present a model that explores the correlation of habitat stability, speciation and spreading rates under environmental change of aquatic insects. These processes strongly affect and are intricately linked with the life cycles of aquatic insects, as one and the same species may switch between a non-flying, aquatic immature life stage, and a flying terrestrial adult stage.
Co-author Dr. Michael T. Monaghan, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin, sums up: „Our model demonstrates a non-linear relationship between habitat stability and dispersal ability of species. Standing waters harbor a larger proportion of species that appear to have evolved the propensity to move to another habitat if conditions change. This can result in the emergence of new species based on geographical diversification. Organisms in running water disperse less, therefore must adapt to changing environmental conditions, which may be another important speciation mechanism. It makes the mixture of habitats an ideal place to study ecological diversification.”
Overview of the research potential of different aquatic insects
The authors summarize and highlight the value of major aquatic insect lineages for biodiversity research.
The diversification of the caddisfly genus Drusus is well suited to investigate speciation taking place at the interface of geographical and ecological diversification. „In the streams and springs of the western Balkan Mountains you can find a whole range of Drusus species. Across the whole mountain range different microendemic species have evolved in every valley– right down to Greece“, says Pauls. „The trigger might be geographical diversification, as waters are isolated by the progressing karst formation“, the entomologist suggests. Different temperature preferences of individual species however, highlight that ecological diversification also plays an important role in the process.Temperature adaptation is another focus of research interest, e.g. in non-biting midges (Chironomidae). These highly adaptive midges with their plumose antennae comprise tropical and antarctic species and occur in altitudes from 6000 above sea level to 1000 below sea level (even in marine environments). They tolerate temperatures from -20° until +40° Celsius, and their lifecycles last from seven days to seven years.
Sabine Wendler | Senckenberg
How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH
A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology