Global diversity of dobsonflies, fishflies, and alderflies (Megaloptera; Insecta) and spongillaflies, nevrorthids, and osmylids (Neuroptera; Insecta) in freshwater

  • Matthew R. CoverEmail author
  • Vincent H. Resh
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 198)


The insect orders Megaloptera and Neuroptera are closely related members of the superorder Neuropterida, a relict lineage of holometabolous insects that also includes the Raphidoptera. Megaloptera, composed of the families Sialidae and Corydalidae (including subfamilies Chauliodinae and Corydalinae), has fully aquatic larvae that occur in a wide variety of lotic and lentic habitats, including temporary streams. In total, 2 of 17 families of Neuroptera have aquatic larvae: Nevrorthidae live in the benthos of fast-flowing streams and Sisyridae reside on freshwater sponges. A third family of Neuroptera, Osmylidae, contains some water-dependent species that reside under leaves and rocks along the margins of waterbodies. We recognize 328 extant, described species of Megaloptera (composed of 116 species of Chauliodinae, 131 species of Corydalinae, and 81 species of Sialidae) and 73 species of aquatic Neuroptera (composed of 12 species of Nevrorthidae and 61 species of Sisyridae). Additionally, we estimate that 45 species of Osmylidae are water-dependent, although the ecology of this group is poorly understood. Chauliodinae and Corydalidae are both found in the New World, the Oriental region, and South Africa, but are absent from Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, tropical Africa, and boreal regions. Chauliodinae is quite speciose in Australia, whereas Corydalinae is absent. Sialidae is most speciose in temperate regions, and is absent from tropical Africa and portions of the Oriental region. Sisyridae and Osmylidae are nearly cosmopolitan, but the relict family Nevrorthidae is limited to Japan, the Mediterranean, and Australia. The discovery of many new species in recent years, particularly among Corydalidae in the Neotropics and China, suggests that our knowledge of aquatic neuropterid diversity is far from complete.


Biodiversity Species richness Megaloptera Neuroptera Neuropterida 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science, Policy, & ManagementUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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