, Volume 330, Issue 1, pp 31–36 | Cite as

Temperature-dependent energetics of Chaoborus populations: hypothesis for anomalous distributions in the great lakes of East Africa

  • Kathleen M. Halat
  • John T. Lehman


Chaoborus, the phantom midge (Insecta, Diptera, Chaoboridae), has a widespread distribution, commonly occurring in lakes and ponds all over the world. In the great lakes region of East Africa Chaoborus is present in Lakes Victoria, Albert, Edward, Malawi and George, but absent from Lakes Tanganyika, Kivu and Turkana. Tropical lakes typically have water temperatures in the range of 22–26 °C year round. Lakes Tanganyika and Kivu have only 20% of their bottom sediments oxygenated during full circulation, contrary to 95–100% in all of the other lakes, excluding Lake Malawi (45%) (Hecky & Kling, 1987). Planktivorous fish are present in all lakes (Lehman, 1995). We hypothesized that the absence of Chaoborus larvae from some lakes of East Africa may be the result of interaction among high temperatures, low oxygen levels, and fish predation.

We developed a model to estimate energetic costs for Chaoborus larvae at temperatures greater than 14 °C. We hoped to shed light on the bioenergetics of Chaoborus populations, and the possibility that extant distributions of Chaoborus larvae are the result of energetic constraints.

We found that relative respiratory and growth costs of Chaoborus larvae are highest in the early stages of development. We estimated that non-feeding instar I larvae living in 25 °C water will starve to death in less than one day. It is possible that Chaoborus populations are prevented from establishing in certain areas because high energetic costs condemn young larvae to death by either predation or starvation.

Key words

Chaoborus energetics temperature 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen M. Halat
    • 1
  • John T. Lehman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology, Natural Science BuildingUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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