Lentic Habitats

Lentic or standing-water habitats range from temporary pools to large deep lakes and include marshes and swamps, as well as natural (i.e., tree holes, pitcher plants) and artificial (i.e., old tires, rain barrels) containers. The available habitats and communities for insects in a pond or lake were defined in Table II. These habitats include the littoral zone, which comprises the shallow areas along the shore with light penetration to the bottom and normally contains macrophytes (rooted vascular plants). The limnetic zone is the open-water area devoid of rooted plants, whereas the deeper profundal zone is the area below which light penetration is inadequate for plant growth, water movement is minimal, and temperature may vary only slightly between summer and winter. The aquatic and semiaquatic insect communities inhabiting these zones are known as the pleuston (organisms associated with the surface film), plankton and nekton (organisms that reside in the open water), and benthos (organisms associated with the bottom, or solid—water interface). Nektonic forms are distinguished from plankton by their directional mobility, and the latter are poorly represented in lentic waters by insects; the majority of insects found in standing-water habitats belong to the benthos. Their composition and relative abundance is dependent on a variety of factors, some of which are integrated along depth profiles. The overall taxonomic richness of benthic insect communities generally declines with increasing depth.

Among the aquatic communities of lentic habitats, the following orders of aquatic and semiaquatic insects are commonly found within the littoral, limnetic, and profundal zones: the springtails (Collembola), mayflies (Ephemeroptera), true bugs (Heteroptera), caddisflies (Trichoptera), dragonflies (Anisoptera) and damselflies (Zygoptera), true flies (flies, gnats, mosquitoes, and midges) (Diptera), moths (Lepidoptera), alderflies (Megaloptera), and beetles (Coleoptera). Not all these groups occur in lakes, and many are associated with ponds or marshes; examples of typical lentic insects are shown in Figs. 3 and 4.

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