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Characterization of Chironomidae (Diptera) surface-floating pupal exuviae sample sort time from coastal tropical aquatic systems

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Many studies either ignore chironomids or only identify specimens to subfamily or tribe due to the associated difficulty and high cost with processing and identifying larvae. An efficient form of sampling chironomids involves collections of surface-floating pupal exuviae (SFPE). SFPE sample sorting has been shown to be more time efficient than traditional dip-net methods in temperate urban and peri-urban streams. However, no published studies have tested the time efficiency of SFPE sample sorting from coastal tropical aquatic systems. We calculated sort times for SFPE samples collected from a coastal tropical stream and an estuary and used multiple linear regression analysis to quantify the relationship between sample sort time and number of specimens, average body length of specimens, and dry weight of sample residue. The average amount of time required to sort very small samples was 69.3 min, while moderate samples averaged 85.6 min and large samples averaged 153.5 min. However, on average, small samples were nine times more time consuming per specimen than large samples. Additionally, dry weight of small-sized residue and the number of specimens contributed significantly to sort time. Therefore, we recommend collecting larger samples, which can be achieved by sampling for 20 min over 200-m reaches for stream sites and 500- to 1,000-m reaches for riverine and estuarine sites. Also, we suggest collecting during periods of low wave action and disturbance by boat wake to reduce the amount of sample residue. This research will enhance project planning and budgeting of future studies using the SFPE method to monitor coastal tropical aquatic systems.

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We thank Costa Rica’s Ministerio del Ambiente y Energia for kindly permitting access to the study area and for providing research permit ACTo-GASP-PIN-016-010. We also wish to thank Jessica Miller and Catherine DeGuire for field and laboratory assistance and the Canadian Organization for Tropical Education and Rainforest Conservation for providing precipitation data. Funding for this project was provided by the Department of Entomology in the College of Foods Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. This paper is published under the auspices of the Chironomidae Research Group at the University of Minnesota.

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Correspondence to Petra Kranzfelder.

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Kranzfelder, P., Ferrington, L.C. Characterization of Chironomidae (Diptera) surface-floating pupal exuviae sample sort time from coastal tropical aquatic systems. Environ Monit Assess 187, 70 (2015).

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