, Volume 653, Issue 1, pp 179–190 | Cite as

Homage to the Virgin of Ecology, or why an aquatic insect unadapted to desiccation may maintain populations in very small, temporary Mediterranean streams

  • Cesc MúrriaEmail author
  • Núria Bonada
  • Carles Ribera
  • Narcís Prat


In temporary streams, the annual constriction of drying is associated with high local extinction risk. To survive in such habitats, organisms with no specific biological traits for coping with dry periods should experience high colonisation rates from permanent reaches of the same basin or from other basins. Hydropsyche siltalai is a widespread caddisfly common in permanent and temporary headwaters reaches in the Mediterranean climate region of the Iberian Peninsula. In this study, we used genetic analyses to test if populations of H. siltalai in temporary streams are resettled from populations of the same basin or from other basins. The geographical distribution of H. siltalai was surveyed in 97 temporary and permanent reaches across four basins; larvae were found in 22 reaches (12 temporary and 10 permanent). Population genetic analyses of 11 selected reaches (6 temporary and 5 permanent) revealed low genetic diversity and no genetic population structure among and within basins. Overall, H. siltalai appeared to disperse well among basins independent of stream temporality. Permanent reaches from different basins act as a source of the individuals that recolonise temporary reaches after local extinctions, indicating a metapopulation structure at regional scale. Moreover, our results support other studies that showed that dispersal among basins is a recurrent pattern in aquatic insects.


Dispersal Gene flow Hydropsychidae Phylogeography Temporary streams 



We are grateful to the ‘Centre d’Estudis de Rius Mediterranis’ and ‘L’Observatori de la Tordera’ for providing individuals of H. siltalai from the Ter and La Tordera basins. We thank M. A. Arnedo, J. Barquín, B. D. Cook, A. T. Rugenski and two anonymous reviewers who provided useful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript and to the F.E.M. research group for helping in the field. Finally, many thanks to M. Loukota, N. Tasko, L. Bidegaray and J. Roca for their assistance in the molecular lab.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cesc Múrria
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Núria Bonada
    • 1
  • Carles Ribera
    • 2
  • Narcís Prat
    • 1
  1. 1.Departament d’EcologiaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaCatalonia
  2. 2.Departament de Biologia AnimalUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaCatalonia
  3. 3.Department of EntomologyNatural History MuseumLondonUK

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