Holzenthal and Prather Caddisflies (Trichoptera) are common and abundant organisms in rivers and lakes world wide. As important members of aquatic food webs, they feed on organic material and other aquatic invertebrates and themselves are fed upon by fish. Caddisflies are very sensitive to pollution and are important biological indicators of water quality. In the Neotropics, the poor state of taxonomic classification and identification for the group hinders their use for water quality monitoring. Research into their evolution, biology, and ecology is also hampered by our limited ability to identify species. Caddisflies in the genera Banyallarga and Phylloicus (family Calamoceratidae) make up one of these poorly known groups. These species are conspicuous members of the Neotropical caddisfly fauna, being relatively large and, unlike most caddisflies, with strikingly colored wings in the adult stage. Their conspicuousness and abundance make them potentially very useful as bioindicators. Unfortunately, published descriptions and illustrations, many dating back to the last century, are inadequate for species identification. Many suspected new species are undescribed from collections made over the last several decades, and evolutionary relationships among these species have never been examined. Graduate student Aysha Prather, under the direction of Dr. Ralph Holzenthal at the University of Minnesota, is conducting a combined morphological and molecular analysis of museum specimens of the two genera and of related genera, to produce a taxonomic revision and genus-level phylogenetic analyses. Morphological characters measured from larval and adult stages of all known species and from museum collections of suspected new species will provide the major materials for the taxonomic description of species, the construction of reliable identification keys, range maps of geographic distributions, and illustrations of critical identifying features of the organisms. DNA sequence data from the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I gene and morphological characters will provide information on the relationships of the two genera to other calamoceratid caddisflies and the placement of the family among related families. This project will provide a taxonomic foundation and phylogenetic framework within this group of caddisflies to advance future research in systematics, ecology, behavior, and water quality monitoring.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Environmental Biology (DEB)
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James E. Rodman
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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
United States
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