Challenges for aquatic insect conservation:
insights from protected area inventories and species distribution modeling
Aquatic insects are critical to many ecosystem processes that generate human and wildlife values (e.g., the trophic base of fisheries, decomposition of leaves and organic matter, indicators of biological water quality). In the 20th century, many species have lost geographic range as a result of anthropogenic stressors. A major obstacle to the conservation of insect species is the many gaps in our knowledge on the geographic range occupied by species. I use results from an aquatic insect inventory, in a network of protected areas distributed across a regional hotspot of species richness, to illustrate some general challenges to the conservation of aquatic insect species. Inventory efforts such as these provide valuable species occurrence data, which we use to model the distribution of species at larger scales. I'll discuss some results from our ongoing efforts to model aquatic insect distributions across the upper Midwest and identify some applications of these data to stream monitoring, biogeographic and evolutionary questions.