Lauren Henning (USD Masters student)

Increasing evidence shows that ecosystem “boundaries” are not as concrete as once believed. In fact, many organisms will cross this boundary during their lifetime. For example, emerging aquatic insects spend their larval stages in the water before emerging onto land as adults. These insects are important prey sources for terrestrial predators such as birds, bats, lizards and spiders.

In many aquatic ecosystems fish are the dominant predators and account for the majority of invertebrate mortality. However, evidence from fishless communities suggests that invertebrate predators, such as larval dragonflies, also impact invertebrate community structure. Previous studies have produced mixed results regarding the impact of larval dragonfly predation on benthic invertebrates and none have examined the impact on insect emergence.

This research project will investigate how predation by larval dragonflies effects both the benthic and emerging aquatic insect community.