Larvae of the lotic caddisfly genus Hydropsyche may occur in densities of thousands to several tens of thousands of individuals/m2 across continents and running water types. Therefore, stream ecologists frequently face the task of identifying larvae of this genus. Early keys to larval Hydropsyche of Asia, Europe and North America often used the relatively complicated frontoclypeal colour pattern for species discrimination, whereas equivocal views about the variation of this pattern limited its use in recent keys. Has each species of a given species group a different (although intraspecifically variable) basic pattern of lighter spots on the darker frontoclypeus, or have all species of a group the same basic colour pattern that varies more or less intraspecifically? An answer to this question has obvious implications for the identification of the species as well as for the phylogeny of the genus, so we examined the variation of this colour pattern across ∼11,000 specimens of 10 Hydropsyche species from the Loire River (France). All 10 species had the same basic colour pattern on the frontoclypeus (six contrasting light patches on a dark background) that varied intraspecifically across a certain range of colour contrasts. Comparing other sources illustrating the frontoclypeus of Hydropsyche larvae provided more support for the idea that six contrasting light patches on the frontoclypeus is the typical basic colour pattern that varies within almost all European species; males of these species have a simple phallus form. Two European and many North American species of the genus (from the Ceratopsyche group) have a different basic colour pattern of seven light patches on the frontoclypeus that varies also intraspecifically; males of these species have a complicated phallus form. If the variation of such colour patterns in co-existing populations of several species is known, the relative contrast differences among the individual patches on the frontoclypeus and the form of the individual patches can provide valuable information for rapid species identification. Analysis of this variation may also contribute to phylogenetic studies of the genus Hydropsyche and other hydropsychids. © 2008 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.
Statzner, B., & Mondy, N. (2009). Variation of colour patterns in larval Hydropsyche (Trichoptera): Implications for species identifications and the phylogeny of the genus. Limnologica, 39(2), 177–183. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.limno.2008.07.005