Seasonal variation in chironomid emergence from coastal pools


  • Alexander T Egan University of Minnesota
  • Leonard C Ferrington University of Minnesota
  • Toben Lafrançois Northland College St. Croix Watershed Research Station
  • Mark B Edlund St. Croix Watershed Research Station



Understanding the phenology of emergences can be useful in determining seasonal chironomid life cycle patterns, which are often influenced by ice cover and temperature in cold climates. Lake Superior is the largest lake in North America and with a mean surface temperature of 3.9 °C influences regional climate. Coastal pools at Isle Royale, a wilderness archipelago in the northern part of the lake, occur in dense patches on low-gradient volcanic bedrock between the lakeshore and forest, creating variable microhabitats for Chironomidae. Four sites were sampled monthly from April to October, 2010. Surface-floating pupal exuviae were collected from a series of pools in two zones: a lower zone near the lake influenced by wave splash, and an upper zone near the forest and influenced by upland runoff. We used Jaccard’s and Whittaker’s diversity indexes to test community similarity across months. Temperature loggers in pools collected hourly readings for most of the study. Assemblage emergences were stable in upper pools, with significant similarity across late spring and summer months. Assemblages were seasonally variable in lower pools, with significant dissimilarity across spring, summer, and fall months. Few species in either zone were unique to spring or fall months. However, many summer species in the splash zone had a narrow emergence period occurring during calm weather following distinct increases in mean water temperature. Regardless of input of cold lake water to the lower zone, pools from both zones generally had corresponding temperature trends. 

Author Biography

Alexander T Egan, University of Minnesota

Department of Entomology