Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Holy flux: Spatial and temporal variation in massive pulses of emerging insect biomass from western U.S. rivers

January 1, 2018

The river stonefly, Pteronarcys californica (aka salmonfly), is an iconic insect in rivers of western North America due to its large size and its support of economically important species like wild trout (Nehring et al. 2011). Their emergence generates a large economic subsidy to local communities, as anglers from around the world travel to western rivers to fish the salmonfly “hatch” (e.g., Willoughby 2013). Salmonflies, which have a 4-yr lifespan in the central Rocky Mountains (Nehring et al. 2011), emerge en masse during 1 week in late spring (Sheldon 1999), and more than 20 terrestrial species, including humans, are known to eat adult salmonflies (Muttkowski 1925, Sutton 1985, Rockwell et al. 2009). How they influence populations of insectivores or the broader river-riparian ecosystem is unknown; this itself is an issue because salmonflies are disappearing from some rivers (Nehring et al. 2011).