Aquatic Insects in Eastern Australia: A Window on Ecology and Evolution of Dispersal in Streams
Jane M. Hughes *, Joel A. Huey, Alison J. McLean and Olivier Baggiano
Abstract: Studies of connectivity of natural populations are often conducted at different timescales. Studies that focus on contemporary timescales ask questions about dispersal abilities and dispersal behavior of their study species. In contrast, studies conducted at historical timescales are usually more focused on evolutionary or biogeographic questions. In this paper we present a synthesis of connectivity studies that have addressed both these timescales in Australian Trichoptera and Ephemeroptera. We conclude that: (1) For both groups, the major mechanism of dispersal is by adult flight, with larval drift playing a very minor role and with unusual patterns of genetic structure at fine scales explained by the “patchy recruitment hypothesis”; (2) There is some evidence presented to suggest that at slightly larger spatial scales (~100 km) caddisflies may be slightly more connected than mayflies; (3) Examinations of three species at historical timescales showed that, in southeast Queensland Australia, despite there being no significant glaciation during the Pleistocene, there are clear impacts of Pleistocene climate changes on their genetic structure; and (4) The use of mitochondrial DNA sequence data has uncovered a number of cryptic species complexes in both trichopterans and ephemeropterans. We conclude with a number of suggestions for further work.