AQUATIC INSECTS AND THEIR ECOLOGICAL BENEFITS
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Study Level: BTech, BSc, BEng, BA, HND, ND or NCE
This seminar work on the ecological benefits of aquatic insects was done taking into consideration basic questions and concepts that can be derived from the given topic of study.
Some of these questions included
- What is an insect?
- What is an aquatic insect?
- Types of aquatic insects
- What is ecology?
- Types of ecologies
- Aquatic ecology
- Aquatic insects and their ecological benefits,were used to indicated the depth this work is going to cover.
Information on the aquatic insects and their benefits and risks to the society are scanty among the general public, students and the scientific community, when compared with the same on the land insects. A brief description is furnished about the body structures and features of the eleven orders of aquatic insects that exist.
These orders are Collembola (springtails), Ephemeroptera (mayflies), Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies), Plecoptera (stoneflies), Hemiptera (true bugs), Megaloptera (dobsonflies and alderflies), Neuroptera (songillaflies), Trichoptera (caddisflies), Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), Coleoptera (beetles) and Diptera (true flies).
Detailed information is presented on the beneficial role of aquatic insects in food webs, bio-monitoring, fishing and control of noxious weeds.
The harmful impacts caused by these animals to the society and the ecosystem by way of general nuisance, transmission of diseases and destruction of crops, were all described in the study.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CLASSIFICATION OF INSECTS
ADAPTATIONS FOR AQUATIC HABITATS
INSECT LIFE CYCLES IN A TEMPERATE STREAM
SLOW SEASON LIFE CYCLE
FAST SEASON LIFE CYCLE
ADAPTIVE MECHANISM OF INSECTS
SNORKEL WITH A BREATHING TUBE
WALKING ON WATER
OTHER AQUATIC ADAPTATIONS
GENERAL ANATOMY OF INSECTS
PHYSICAL FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE THE INSECT COMMUNITY
- WATER TEMPERATURE
- VOLUME AND VELOCITY OF WATER FLOW (DISCHARGE)
- ENERGY RELATIONSHIPS
- SOCIETAL BENEFITS OF AQUATIC INSECTS
What is an Insect?
Insects are invertebrates (animals without an internal skeleton) that belong to the large groupof animals given the name Arthropoda, which loosely translates as “joint footed”. The “joints”referred to are a feature of animals that have a hard outer shell or exoskeleton, because such armored invertebrates must have joints (like the elbow or knee joints in a medieval suit ofarmor) in order to move.
There are more than 1 million known species of insects on the planet;this is about three-fourths of known species of all animals and about two-thirds of species ofall living things (microbes, plants and animals). Everyone is familiar with common terrestrialbutterflies, moths, beetles, ants, bees, flies, grasshoppers, and cockroaches, but the manyinsects that live in water are less often appreciated except by those who explore special placessuch as puddles, ponds, lakes, water-filled ditches, and streams.
What is Aquatic Insects?
Truly aquatic insects are thosethat spend some part of their life cycle closely associated with water, either living beneath thesurface or skimming along on top of the water. There are many different kinds of aquaticinsects and almost every type of freshwater environment will have some of the insects living in it. The ocean, on the other hand, is rarely or only marginally inhabited by insects because very few insects have become adapted to survive or to compete with other animals in thatenvironment.
Basic importance of Aquatic Insects
Insects play an important role in the ecosystem of which they are apart. Not only do they serve as food for fish, amphibians, and water birds, they are alsoinvolved in the breakdown of organic matter and nutrients.
Freshwater Insects are used to assess the “health” of a stream.
Taking samples of all aquatic life stages of Insects can serve as anindicator of the water quality for several reasons:
- Some are sensitive (intolerant) to pollution, habitat changes, and severe naturalevents, while others are more tolerant;
- Many live in the water for over a year;
- They are generally sessile – they cannot escape pollution like fish and birds;
- They are easy to collect.
The biological evaluation of water quality is linked to the number of pollution tolerant organisms compared to the number of pollution intolerant ones. If a survey of the stream yielded a higher proportion of pollution tolerant Insects andno sensitive ones, that could indicate poor water or habitat quality index. A morefavorable water quality index would be characterized by finding sensitive organismsas well as tolerant organisms. An index such as this is more useful when data isgathered over the long term and trends can be analyzed. The Insects Assessment Form is one sample of how you might assess the water quality of yourstream using Insects.
Two methods commonly used for evaluating water quality are
- Indicatororganisms and
- Diversity Indices
The indicator organisms method is based on the factthat every species has a certain range of physical and chemical conditions in which it can survive. Some organisms can survive in a wide range of conditions and can “tolerate” more pollution. Other organisms are very sensitive to changes in water conditions and cannot tolerate pollution. Examples of intolerant organisms are mayflies, stoneflies, and some caddisflies (members of the Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera orders, respectively). Examples of some pollution-tolerant organisms include leeches, aquatic worms, and some midge (Diptera) larva. Water quality is evaluated by comparing the number of tolerant organisms to the number of intolerant organisms. A large number of pollution-tolerant organisms and few intolerant organisms may indicate poor water and/or habitat quality. However, remember thatpollution-tolerant organisms can also be found in a wide range of conditions, includingpollution-free environments.
Diversity refers to the number of different kinds of organisms found in a biologicalcommunity. In general, communities with a high diversity are more stable. Pollution and/or frequent habitat disturbance can eliminate intolerant species, and therefore reduce diversity. So if an area becomes polluted, the total number of organisms may stay the same, but diversity may decrease.
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