Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

FNZ 22 - Notonemouridae (Insecta: Plecoptera) - Popular summary

McLellan, ID 1991. Notonemouridae (Insecta: Plecoptera). Fauna of New Zealand 22, 64 pages.
( ISSN 0111-5383 (print), ; no. 22. ISBN 0-477-02518-8 (print), ). Published 27 May 1991

Popular summary

The Notonemouridae are one of four families of stoneflies in New Zealand. Their juvenile stages (nymphs) live in freshwater habitats such as water films, streams, and underground gravels with a flowing water table.

Nymphs moult several times before emerging as softbodied, four-winged adults which live for a few weeks, feeding on plant material and mating before depositing eggs. Many of the females have a long ovipositor, which is a feature uncommon in other stonefly families.

New Zealand's twenty-six species of Notonemouridae are small and not as conspicuous as some members of the other families. This has meant that they are not well known, and like all stoneflies they have no Māori names, either individually or collectively.

The browsing nymph of one widespread species is the most commonly encountered member of its family because its habitat is in waterways of a type more usually visited during investigations of fisheries and for environmental impact studies. In contrast, the adults of another species are collected near such streams but its nymphs are infrequently encountered because they live deep in underwater gravels. Other notonemourids, although not common, are largely unnoticed because their habitats have so far not been closely studied. For example, nymphs of one species are found in water films fed by springs, usually in rain forest.

Our knowledge of Notonemouridae has increased markedly in the past thirty years, and this greater awareness has already had some impact on applied entomology. Increasingly, various publications acknowledge the presence of stoneflies and their place in nature. The literature overseas contains many reports on their usefulness as indicators of water quality, and now, with easier identification, New Zealanders are beginning to use them for the same purpose.

Along with other stoneflies, the nymphs and adults of Notonemouridae are food for both native and introduced fishes, and consequently anglers manufacture artificial flies to represent them.

Although some of the larger species of stonefly can be identified with the naked eye, most identification must be done using a stereoscopic microscope to check wings, body, legs, and genitalia. It is possible that new species may be found in regions not yet well covered by collectors.

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