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Macroinvertebrates home

Streams project

 

Pine Brook

These are the ten most common macroinvertebrates identified from samples from Pine Brook.

Click on images to zoom in. 

ORDER: Ephemeroptera
FAM
ILY: Heptageniidae

This family of mayflies can be characterized by their distinctly flattened heads and striking resemblance of the character 'Jack Skellington' from the movie 'The Nightmare Before Christmas.' This family can either have two or three cerci (tails).

Commonly encountered genera include Epeorus, Heptagenia, Maccaffertium, and Rhithrogena.

ORDER: Diptera
FAMILY: Chironomidae

 Midge larvae tend to be the most common macroinvertebrate at our sites.  As with other Diptera, there are no true jointed legs.  Chironomidae do have a pair of prolegs at each end and preserved individuals tend to curl into a 'C'.  Identification past family requires slide-mounted heads.  We have seen philopotamid caddisflies misidentified with the chironomids and we suspect that that happens when samples are being sorted from trays.  Under a microscope, six prominent legs can be seen on members of the family Philopotamidae.


ORDER: Ephemeroptera
FAMILY: Baetidae
 

This mayfly has either two or three cerci ("tails") and a unique head shape. Its gills are oval shaped and insert dorsally.

Commonly encountered genera include Acerpenna, Baetis, and Pseudocloeon.

PHYLUM: Annelida
CLASS: Oligochaeta

Aquatic earthworms lack legs and are characterized by having 20 or more segments. Unlike leeches, they lack a suction disk.

ORDER: Plecoptera
FAMILY: Leuctridae
GENUS: Leuctra

This family of stonefly is fairly slender by stonefly standards.  The divergent wing pads are a helpful characteristic. Leuctridae  are similar in overall shape to the Capniidae; however, Leuctridae often do not have pleural folds. If they are present, they only extend from abdominal segments 1-7.  Leuctra  are recognized by abdominal terga with posterior fringes of short hairs and last few segments with longer hairs. NABS

ORDER: Trichoptera
FAMILY: Philopotamidae

Philopotomidae are net-spinning filtering collectors.  A casual observer might sort them with Chironomidae, but a close look reveals six jointed legs.  The faint white 'T' shaped labrum extending from the front of the head past the mandibles is diagnostic for the family (it is sometimes withdrawn and hard to see). The asymmetrical notch gets us to genus; common genera include Dolophilodes, Wormaldia, and Chimarra. SMC

ORDER: Plecoptera
FAMILY: Perlodidae
 

Stoneflies in the Perlodidae family do not have branching gills from leg bases. When observing their mouthparts, the glossae and paraglossae form a large three-pronged notch, or opening. Hind wing pads are divergent. Cerci, or "tails," are as long or longer than the abdomen.

Hexatoma sp. Tipulidae - photo by Wayne Davis USEPA
US EPA

ORDER: Diptera
FAMILY: Tipulidae
GENUS:
Hexatoma

This Tipulidae can be identified by the swollen 7th abdominal segment.


ORDER: Diptera
FAMILY: Ceratopogonidae

Members of this family look like very straight Chironomidae. They are very long and thin with a distinct head capsule and no prolegs.  Some in the lab call them 'bamboo sticks with eyes.' SMC

 

Hexatoma sp. Tipulidae - photo by Wayne Davis USEPA
US EPA

ORDER: Ephemeroptera
FAMILY: Caenidae

These "small square-gill" mayflies have operculate (plate-like) gills on segment 2 that cover gills on segments 3 to 6. Their bodies are built for crawling, and their heads are held vertically. The genus Caenis is commonly found.

The images are not a substitute for keying, but should serve as an aid in identifying common macroinvertebrates in samples.

Feedback - Partner schools: send us specimens not included above.  Taxonomists: click to email: Declan McCabe
This site is supported by Vermont EPSCoR grant from the National Science Foundation (EPS #0701410).
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