Publication Date

Spring 2020

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Scott Grubbs (Director), Jarrett Johnson and Albert Meier

Degree Program

Department of Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science

Abstract

The Black Mountains are a part of the Blue Ridge region of the Appalachian Mountains and include Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River at 2,037 m (= 6,684 ft). A comprehensive inventory of the stonefly fauna was conducted between 2014-2019 within Mt. Mitchell State Park and adjacent Pisgah National Forest. Collections occurred seasonally from 44 unique locations, covering a broad range of stream sizes and elevations in the region. Sequencing of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (mtCOI) gene was completed to assist with making positive determinations to species for females of taxonomically challenging genera Leuctra Stephens, 1836, Isoperla Banks, 1906, and Remenus Ricker, 1952. Molecular data were analyzed using both tree- and genetic distance-based phylogenetic methods. An established a strategy for associating females and males using mtCOI sequences has been demonstrated in this study for the second time for eastern Nearctic Leuctra. This integrative approach confirmed a total of 58 species from all nine Nearctic families. Singletons and doubletons totaled 19 species, approximately 33% of all species collected. Perlodidae accounted for the highest number of species at 18, while Pteronarcyidae added just one species. Leuctra truncata Claassen, 1923 and S. onkos (Ricker, 1952) are being reported from North Carolina for the first time. Collection efforts also aided in a new species description (Grubbs & Baumann 2019). Stoneflies were present during all seasons, but spring had the most species in the adult stage (n = 47). Many species range extended from the lowest to highest elevations (831-1983m) with the exception of larger bodied stoneflies. Median elevations ranged from 889 m (Paragnetina immarginata) to 1747 m (L. variabilis). There were also no elevational patterns at a family level. Distribution maps are included for all species. Additional winter and early spring sampling would likely yield more species, however, since there are limitations to access during snowfall events this was not able to occur.

Disciplines

Entomology | Life Sciences | Molecular Genetics | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology

Available for download on Friday, June 18, 2021

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