Just how imperiled are aquatic insects? A case study of stoneflies (Plecoptera) in Illinois

R. Edward DeWalt, Colin Favret, Donald W. Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nearly 5,000 historical and contemporary specimen records of stoneflies (Plecoptera) from Illinois demonstrated that this fauna is highly imperiled, boding poorly for aquatic insect communities in North America and elsewhere. Losses include two extinctions of endemics and 20 extirpations of 77 total species, a rate of loss that is higher than for either mussels or fish in Illinois. Another 19 species (24.7%) were designated as critically imperiled, being known from five or fewer locations. Two families, Perlidae and Perlodidae, experienced the greatest number of losses. Species lost were mostly those with longer life cycles and direct egg hatch. Three historically hyperdiverse regions were identified and losses in all 14 natural divisions were documented. Large river habitats and historically prairie regions have experienced the greatest proportional losses of species. This scenario probably follows for Ephemeroptera, Trichoptera, and Odonata in the Midwest and in other areas with similar glacial and cultural histories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)941-950
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of the Entomological Society of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Aquatic insect conservation
  • Illinois
  • Plecoptera

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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