Declines in an abundant aquatic insect, the burrowing mayfly, across major North American waterways.


Department of Biology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019; [Email]


Seasonal animal movement among disparate habitats is a fundamental mechanism by which energy, nutrients, and biomass are transported across ecotones. A dramatic example of such exchange is the annual emergence of mayfly swarms from freshwater benthic habitats, but their characterization at macroscales has remained impossible. We analyzed radar observations of mayfly emergence flights to quantify long-term changes in annual biomass transport along the Upper Mississippi River and Western Lake Erie Basin. A single emergence event can produce 87.9 billion mayflies, releasing 3,078.6 tons of biomass into the airspace over several hours, but in recent years, production across both waterways has declined by over 50%. As a primary prey source in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, these declines will impact higher trophic levels and environmental nutrient cycling.


Ephemeroptera,bioflow,ecotone,emergence,radar entomology,

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