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Transforming Learning Program
Modeling A. lycorias body shape and hydrologic conditions
Morphological variation across environmental gradients can elucidate a phenotypic response organisms have with their surrounding environment. Phenotypic variation from local adaptation, phenotypic and/or developmental plasticity in labile biologic traits, such as body shape, can provide information about ecological conditions. In the benthic region of streams, body shape variation of benthic fish, macrophytes, and crayfish has been linked to stream discharge. Very little attempt has been made to document variation in stream insects. Insect nymphs must respond to fluctuations in stream discharge to find food, shelter, and remain in a preferred habitat without being lost in the drift. Correcting for size, we have previously identified a distinct gradient of body shape in one stonefly species (Acroneuria lycorias) along of stream hydrologic conditions. Collection sites were selected for the presence of United States Geological Survey (USGS) stream gauges. We are looking to expound on previous field sampling in three ways. We will resample USGS sites to track phenotypic change over a three – year period in relation to hydrologic shifts. Secondly, we will compare the utility of using hydrologic modeling software to A. lycorias body shape measurements for describing magnitude and frequency hydrologic conditions. Lastly, a reciprocal flow study will be conducted at the UMBS stream research facility. With increasing human influence to freshwater systems and climate change influencing precipitation patterns, this research adds to growing evidence for identifying useful biological entities to describe in – stream hydrologic conditions.