Global diversity of mayflies (Ephemeroptera, Insecta) in freshwater

  • Helen M. Barber-JamesEmail author
  • Jean-Luc Gattolliat
  • Michel Sartori
  • Michael D. Hubbard
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 198)


The extant global Ephemeroptera fauna is represented by over 3,000 described species in 42 families and more than 400 genera. The highest generic diversity occurs in the Neotropics, with a correspondingly high species diversity, while the Palaearctic has the lowest generic diversity, but a high species diversity. Such distribution patterns may relate to how long evolutionary processes have been carrying on in isolation in a bioregion. Over an extended period, there may be extinction of species, but evolution of more genera. Dramatic extinction events such as the K-T mass extinction have affected current mayfly diversity and distribution. Climatic history plays an important role in the rate of speciation in an area, with regions which have been climatically stable over long periods having fewer species per genus, when compared to regions subjected to climatic stresses, such as glaciation. A total of 13 families are endemic to specific bioregions, with eight among them being monospecific. Most of these have restricted distributions which may be the result of them being the relict of a previously more diverse, but presently almost completely extinct family, or may be the consequence of vicariance events, resulting from evolution due to long-term isolation.


Ephemeroptera Bioregion Endemicity Diversity Distribution Introgression 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen M. Barber-James
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jean-Luc Gattolliat
    • 3
  • Michel Sartori
    • 3
  • Michael D. Hubbard
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Freshwater InvertebratesAlbany MuseumGrahamstownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  3. 3.Museum of ZoologyLausanneSwitzerland
  4. 4.Laboratory of Aquatic EntomologyFlorida A & M UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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