Tracking Environmental Change Using Lake Sediments

Volume 4 of the series Developments in Paleoenvironmental Research pp 43-66

Midges: Chironomidae and Related Diptera

  • Ian R. WalkerAffiliated withDepartments of Biology, and Earth and Environmental Sciences, Okanagan University College

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Among insects, the chitinous larval remains of the order Diptera (true flies) are most abundant in lake sediments, and thus have proven to be especially useful in palaeoenviron-mental studies. Within this large and diverse group, however, remains of the Chironomidae (non-biting midges) greatly exceed the remains of all other Diptera in abundance. Only a few other families—the Chaoboridae (phantom midges), the Ceratopogonidae (biting midges or “no-see-ums”), and the Simuliidae (black flies)—are sufficiently common to be of much interest to palaeoecologists. Each of these families is principally aquatic in its larval form, although the Ceratopogonidae and Chironomidae comprise some terrestrial or semi-terrestrial species. Head capsules are the principal remains of the Chironomidae, Ceratopogonidae and Simuliidae that can be recovered from lake sediments (Fig. 1a, b, c, d, f). Identification of the Chaoboridae relies instead upon the larval mandibles (Fig. le).


Chironomidae Chaoboridae Ceratopogonidae Simuliidae Culicidae Thaumaleidae black flies midges palaeoecology palaeoentomology palaeolimnology