Observations of cocooned Hydrobaenus (Diptera: Chironomidae) larvae in Lake Michigan

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Abstract

Larvae of the family Chironomidae have developed a variety of ways to tolerate environmental stress, including the formation of cocoons, which allows larvae to avoid unfavorable temperature conditions, drought, or competition with other chironomids. Summer cocoon formation by younger instars of the genus Hydrobaenus Fries allows persistence through increased temperatures and/or intermittent dry periods in arid regions or temporary habitats, but this behavior was not observed in the Great Lakes until the current study. Cocoon-aestivating Hydrobaenus sp. larvae were found in benthic grab samples collected in 2010–2013 near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in northern Lake Michigan with densities up to 7329/m2. The aestivating species was identified as Hydrobaenus johannseni (Sublette, 1967), and the associated chironomid community was typical for an oligotrophic nearshore system. Hydrobaenus cocoon formation in the Great Lakes was likely previously unnoticed due to the discrepancies between the genus’ life history and typical benthos sampling procedures which has consequences for describing chironomid communities where Hydrobaenus is present.

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Tucker, T. R., Hudson, P. L., & Riley, S. C. (2016). Observations of cocooned Hydrobaenus (Diptera: Chironomidae) larvae in Lake Michigan. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 42(5), 1129–1135. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jglr.2016.07.013

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