Aquatic wood -- an insect perspective

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  • Authors: Cranston, Peter S.; McKie, Brendan
  • Publication Year: 2006
  • Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
  • Source: Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-93. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. pp. 9-14


Immersed wood provides refugia and substrate for a diverse array of macroinvertebrates, and food for a more restricted genuinely xylophagous fauna. Worldwide, xylophages are found across aquatic insect orders, including Coleoptera, Diptera, Trichoptera and Plecoptera. Xylophages often are specialised, feeding on the wood surface or mining deep within. Many feed preferentially on wood of particular species or of a particular decay class. Some of the most specialised genuine wood miners occur among the Chironomidae, and the fauna is particularly rich in Australia. Recent discoveries of unusual midges in Australia and south-east Asia allow speculation about the evolution of immersed-wood mining by Chironomidae. Subfamily Orthocladiinae contains many unrelated taxa with larval mouthpart modifications associated with gouging wood. Wood-mining chironomines, in fewer groups, mostly lack morphological differentiation. However, several early-branching clades of both subfamilies show radiation (diversity), and the condition can be inferred as ancestral, potentially associated with differential historical survival from cataclysmic extinction events.

  • Citation: Cranston, Peter S.; McKie, Brendan. 2006. Aquatic wood -- an insect perspective. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-93. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. pp. 9-14
  • Posted Date: October 31, 2006
  • Modified Date: November 17, 2006
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