Diel variation in chironomid (Diptera: Insecta) exuviae abundance and taxonomic richness in near-pristine upland streams of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, South-Eastern Australia

Ian A. Wright, Shelley Burgin

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3 Citations (Scopus)


We assessed diurnal variation of Chironomidae exuviae in two small upland streams in temperate Australia, during summer. Understanding the diel periodicity of exuviae can be an important consideration for biomonitoring purposes or to investigate adult emergence patterns. We collected 1,813 floating exuviae, comprising 54 taxa from four subfamilies, from flowing water using a drift net. Unlike many northern hemisphere temperate studies, we observed that peak exuviae abundance (7. 3 exuviae per m3) and taxon richness (1. 7 taxa per m3) occurred in the dusk and night hours, with the lowest numbers (0. 9 exuviae per m3) and taxon richness (0. 6 taxa per m3) recorded in the late morning to early afternoon. We suggest that this could be an adaptation to avoid stressful weather during the heat of summer days, or it could be to avoid visual predators. The numerically dominant taxa exhibited peak abundance in the dusk/night samples which indicates predominant crepuscular/nocturnal patterns of adult emergence. This pattern was consistent across both streams surveyed. Our taxon inventory rose steeply during the first 24-h occasion, then at a reduced rate during the second and third days of sampling. For flowing water collections of exuviae that utilise drift-netting, we suggest that sampling at all sites includes at least three 24-h cycles and avoids periods of heavy rainfall and increased stream flow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-141
Number of pages11
JournalAquatic Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


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