Mayfly new to Wisconsin identified by UW-Stevens Point aquatic lab
6/17/2014
​Fallceon quilleri (Dodds) nymph. Photo by J. Dimick

The recent discovery of a mayfly species in southwest Wisconsin may indicate the ecological health of the stream.
 

“The more species the better in terms of environmental quality,” said Jeff Dimick, supervisor of the Aquatic Biomonitoring Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point.

The lab identified Fallceon quilleri (Dodds), a small minnow mayfly, from a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources stream biomonitoring sample. The sample was collected from the Little Platte River in Grant County. It expands the number of Wisconsin’s known mayfly species to 158.

F. quilleri was expected to be found in Wisconsin based on nearby records in Iowa and Illinois. Its known distribution includes the Great Plains southwestward through Texas and possibly down into Central America. The Wisconsin record is the farthest north and east this mayfly species has been found. 

A UW colleague in Rock County has been watching for this species for nearly 20 years, Dimick said. Tom Klubertanz, a professor of biological sciences, has written a book, “Mayfly Larvae of Wisconsin,” which will be published this year. The discovery was made in time to include in this first-ever publication. 

The larval stage is used in ecological assessments because that is the longest stage in a mayfly’s life. This species is a nymph for about a year. It looks similar to an adult, but most adults live only one day, after finding a mate and laying eggs to pass on their genes. 

The Aquatic Biomonitoring Laboratory analyzes hundreds of stream biomonitoring samples from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and other governmental, tribal and nonprofit agencies each year to assess water quality. Biomonitoring looks at the variety and abundance of species present in a stream to provide clues about the environmental quality of the sample location. 

The aquatic laboratory is affiliated with the Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, located at UW-Stevens Point. 

The Aquatic Biomonitoring Laboratory also identified the New Zealand mud snail last October from samples collected from Black Earth Creek in western Dane County, the first time this tiny invasive species was found inland in the Midwest. It feeds on phytoplankton important to fish.

 “Given the state’s near-40 year history of biomonitoring, it’s exciting to know that there are still new discoveries to be made in Wisconsin’s streams,” Dimick said. 


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CNR; Chancellor