Abstract

The genera Leptonema and Smicridea belong to the family Hidropsychidae and constitute one of the most important groups in the nutrient dynamics in the tropical aquatic ecosystems, which diversity of microhabitats is exploited by their larvae. However, there is lack of information concerning the detailed and comparative descriptions of mouthparts between these two genera, and their possible relation with their diet. The aim of this paper was to describe the morphology of the mouthparts and the feeding habits of both genera, in the middle basin of the Gaira River (Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia). The samples were collected on a monthly basis, with a surber net, between October and December of 2014, and May of 2015. A total of 15 larvae per genus were taken and the Blue Zen Software was used to determine the morphometric measurements of the cephalic pieces. Measurements were taken on photographs obtained from an AxioCam ERc5s camera adapted to a Nikon SMZ 745T stereoscope. To describe the mouthparts a M205A microscope-stereoscope Leica was used. The dietary habits of 15 individuals in total were evaluated by means of the analysis of stomach contents. A discriminant analysis of Hotelling was applied to the morphometric measurements. There were significant differences in head area (HA), head width (HW3), head length (HL2) and left mandible length (LML). In the morphological descriptions were found differences in: head, labrum and submentum. Dietaries profiles were performed to the stomach contents for both genera and the items with highest percentage for Leptonema was MOPG and MOPF with 38 % and 32 %, respectively, and for Smicridea MOPF (38 %) and MOPG (34 %) with significant differences (F = 8.8298, p < 0.05). This study indicated that the evaluated individuals consume a wide variety of resources and the difference of the diet of both genera can be related to the detected morphological differences.

Keywords: aquatic insects, morphometric, gut contents, mouthparts, food item