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Respiratory Adaptations of Aquatic Insects in Wetlands. Christine L. Goforth Graduate Student, Entomology Fall 2002. Introduction. Insects first evolved on land with a terrestrial respiratory system

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respiratory adaptations of aquatic insects in wetlands

Respiratory Adaptations of Aquatic Insects in Wetlands

Christine L. Goforth

Graduate Student, Entomology

Fall 2002

introduction
Introduction
  • Insects first evolved on land with a terrestrial respiratory system
  • Insects are secondarily adapted to aquatic habitats, so have to adapt their gas-filled respiratory system to the aquatic environment
terrestrial respiration
Terrestrial Respiration
  • Insects have a gas-filled respiratory system
  • Terrestrial systems have large internal surfaces, but few external openings
    • maximize oxygen uptake, minimize water loss
air vs water
Air vs. Water
  • Air and water are very different respiratory environments:
    • Oxygen diffuses 324000 times more slowly in water than air!
    • Oxygen saturated air = 200000ppm
    • Oxygen saturated water = 12-15 ppm at best
  • It is very difficult for insects to get sufficient oxygen from the water
open vs closed systems
Open vs. Closed Systems

There are two main groups of respiratory adaptations:

  • Closed – all spiracles are sealed and non-functional; indirect respiration
  • Open – at least some spiracles are still functional; direct respiration
closed systems

Closed Systems

No open spiracles…

cuticular respiration
Cuticular Respiration
  • Closed system
  • Oxygen diffuses directly through exoskeleton into the tracheal system
    • Thinned cuticle
    • Rich tracheation immediately below surface
  • Uncommon in wetlands
  • Eg. Black flies
gills
Gills
  • Closed system
  • Oxygen diffuses through cuticle at extensions of the exoskeleton especially adapted for oxygen transfer
    • Plate-like structures on abdomen
    • Rich tracheation in gills
  • Uncommon in wetlands
  • Eg., damselflies
open systems

Open Systems

Some spiracles functional…

atmospheric breathers
Atmospheric Breathers
  • Open system
  • Requires access to surface so that air may be taken out of the atmosphere rather than the water
    • Hydrofuge hairs prevent drowning
  • Common in wetlands
  • Eg., water scorpions
plant breathers
Plant Breathers
  • Open system
  • Works like atmospheric breathing, but taps into aquatic plants as its oxygen source
  • Not a very common adaptation in any aquatic system, but does occurs most in vegetated areas like wetlands
  • Eg., aquatic weevils
gas film respiration
Gas Film Respiration
  • Open system
  • Use atmospheric gasses that are carried on the insect by special hairs
  • Two main types:
    • Physical gill – temporary
    • Plastron - permanent
  • Common in wetlands
  • Gas films act as gills
slide13

O2

Air

O2

N2

Air = 21% O2, 78% N2, <0.1% CO2

Water = 35% O2, 64% N2, <0.1% CO2