Semester of Graduation

Fall 2019

Degree

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Entomology

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Understanding the biodiversity of insects in an area provides key insights into the health and uniqueness of an ecosystem. Here we increase the breadth of knowledge of Louisiana aquatic Hemiptera through field and natural history collection research. The Atchafalaya River floodplain is variably inundated throughout the course of the year, peaking with the spring flood pulse, resulting in spatiotemporally dynamic habitats for aquatic organisms. Buffalo Cove Water Management Unit (BC) is within the river system, whereas Lake Fausse Pointe (LFP) has been leveed from the influence of the river for over 50 years. We collected aquatic macroinvertebrates with quatrefoil light traps, a suitcase sampler, and sweep nets along transects in open water and water hyacinth-dominated habitats at both locations over the course of the 2018 and 2019 spring flood pulses, and measured water quality at trap locations. BC had higher biodiversity of invertebrates (55, compared to 25 in LFP) and Hemiptera (15 taxa opposed to 6) and double the number of hemipteran families (7 and 3, respectively). Although multiple water quality parameters were found to be significant in determining Hemipteran distribution between the two study areas, the most parsimonious explanation was the levee-caused lack of flooding in LFP. Natural history collections are often overlooked sources of distributional data. The Louisiana State Arthropod Museum (LSAM) is an excellent example of a collection of potentially critical data regarding the distribution and species composition of the state’s arthropod fauna. Label data from these specimens were transcribed, and database and literature searches were conducted for all aquatic Hemiptera. Localities were manually geolocated and assigned GPS coordinates with ACMEMapper and mapped in GIS to provide species ranges for 2 the state fauna. Based on this effort, 4,300 specimens from LSAM were cataloged, dating back to 1905. Across 14 families, there were 296 previously unpublished parish species records. In combination, this comprehensive study of the aquatic Hemiptera of Louisiana betters taxonomic understanding and provides key ecological insights for the order.

Committee Chair

Kaller, Michael

Included in

Entomology Commons

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