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Lake Champlain Research Institute at SUNY Plattsburgh Heads Study That Finds Insect Previously Uknown to Science

Aquatic insects. They are the energy that drives the food web in our lakes and streams. They power our fisheries.

Yet, very little is known about the creatures. Take those in the Adirondacks, for instance. No one knows the total number or the full variety of insect species in the park.

Recently, the college’s Lake Champlain Research Institute set out to change at least some of that.

Surprising Finds in the Adirondack Park

It joined forces with Luke Myers, an undergraduate at Paul Smith’s College, in a study of aquatic insect biodiversity in Adirondack streams.

The study looked specifically at three orders of aquatic insects, and, after seven years’ work, we documented more than 650 aquatic insect species: 183 mayflies, 132 stoneflies and 351 caddis flies.

What’s more, in doing so, we found at least five species previously unknown to science and 128 species that had never been reported in the state.

Luke, for his part, even had a chance to name some of them. In fact, he and Dr. Boris Kondratieff, a professor of entomology at Colorado State University, named one species of stonefly “Perlesta mihucorum” after me and my wife, Janet, an associate professor at Paul Smith’s College.

Need for Further Study

The examiners were surprised at the diversity found in the Adirondacks. As Luke put it, “There continues to be a need for further biodiversity research in the state.”

Maybe we don’t know as much about the Adirondack Park as we thought we did. The study seems to suggest that it does function as a large reserve for biodiversity — in this case of aquatic fauna — not only for New York state but for the entire Northeast region.

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