Aquatic insects are often used as biological indicators for assessing and monitoring the health of freshwater ecosystems. A sound understanding of the taxonomy and geographic distribution of bioindicator species is required for their effective use. Megaloptera and aquatic Neuroptera (Sisyridae) are small yet ecologically diverse groups of aquatic insects found commonly in a wide range of freshwater habitats. As part of a project to write an identification guide to Megaloptera and aquatic Neuroptera of Florida, we documented species diversity and geographic distributions. Our species inventory and distributional database was compiled by searching scientific literature, examining museum collections housed at Florida A&M University and the Florida State Collection of Arthropods, and examination of material loaned to us from biologists working for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Data from these sources were entered into a relational database and exported into a Geographic Information System for analysis and mapping. Our survey revealed the presence of 9 species of Megaloptera grouped within 4 genera and 2 families. For the Sisyridae we documented 3 species within 2 genera. A species checklist and distributional maps are provided, as well as information on habitat associations and seasonality. Within all genera, species diversity and distributions are well known, except within the genus Sialis (Sialidae). Adult Sialis material is lacking and larval species identification is exceedingly difficult. Megalopteran and sisyrid species are generally widespread throughout the state with the exception of Nigronia species, which appear to be restricted to the northern Florida panhandle.
Keywords: Megaloptera, biological diversity
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