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
More than just a mechanical barrier – epithelial cells actively combat the flu virus
04.05.2016 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Discovery of a fundamental limit to the evolution of the genetic code
03.05.2016 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Using an ultra fast-scanning atomic force microscope, a team of researchers from the University of Basel has filmed “living” nuclear pore complexes at work for the first time. Nuclear pores are molecular machines that control the traffic entering or exiting the cell nucleus. In their article published in Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers explain how the passage of unwanted molecules is prevented by rapidly moving molecular “tentacles” inside the pore.
Using high-speed AFM, Roderick Lim, Argovia Professor at the Biozentrum and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute of the University of Basel, has not only directly...
If a person pushes a broken-down car alone, there is a certain effect. If another person helps, the result is the sum of their efforts. If two micro-particles are pushing another microparticle, however, the resulting effect may not necessarily be the sum their efforts. A recent study published in Nature Communications, measured this odd effect that scientists call “many body.”
In the microscopic world, where the modern miniaturized machines at the new frontiers of technology operate, as long as we are in the presence of two...
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute Stuttgart have developed self-propelled tiny ‘microbots’ that can remove lead or organic pollution from contaminated water.
Working with colleagues in Barcelona and Singapore, Samuel Sánchez’s group used graphene oxide to make their microscale motors, which are able to adsorb lead...
Neutron scattering and computational modeling have revealed unique and unexpected behavior of water molecules under extreme confinement that is unmatched by any known gas, liquid or solid states.
In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory describe a new tunneling state of...
Honeycomb structures as the basic building block for industrial applications presented using holo pyramid
Researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) will introduce their latest developments in the field of bionic lightweight design at Hannover Messe from 25...
27.04.2016 | Event News
15.04.2016 | Event News
12.04.2016 | Event News
04.05.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
04.05.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
04.05.2016 | Materials Sciences