The Stoneflies (Insecta: Plecoptera) of Israel: Past, Present, Future…?

Zohar Yanai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Of the more than 3900 described species worldwide, stoneflies (order Plecoptera) are represented in Israel, a semi-arid country, by as few as five species. As a group of highly sensitive aquatic insects, they are restricted to the northernmost watershed of the Sea of Galilee, where the most pristine streams in Israel are found. The Israeli stoneflies are not often collected in the field, and they have not been recorded in the literature in the last 30 years. In order to provide an up-to-date picture, I gathered the available historical records of the local fauna, as well as all verified data from the last decade, and compared the two datasets. Despite the unprecedented efforts that have recently been invested in studying freshwater macroinvertebrates in Israel, a sharp decrease in stonefly occurrence is evident. Whilst the populations of three species have dramatically declined (Protonemura zernyi, Leuctra hippopus, and L. kopetdaghi), the remaining two have not been collected at all in over four decades and are considered locally extinct (Brachyptera galeata and Marthamea beraudi). These findings highlight the joint impact of multiple stressors on the stream system in the Sea of Galilee Watershed—namely, stream pollution and water diversion on the local level and climate change on the global level. If the current trends continue, there is a great concern that the entire local stonefly fauna will become extinct, and many stream-dwelling taxa may follow soon after.

Original languageEnglish
Article number80
JournalDiversity
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Keywords

  • Anthropogenic impact
  • Distribution
  • Local extinction
  • Museum study
  • Plecoptera
  • Population decline

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