Insects (Hexapoda) have a fundamental role in intrinsic food webs within aquatic environments and can further serve as environmental indicators of the health of their environment. The biodiversity of aquatic hexapods was studied in two lakes between February 2021 and November 2022 in Milledgeville, Georgia using Hester-Dendy samplers. The areas surrounding the lakes differ, with one in a residential neighborhood and the other is surrounded mostly by forest. We hypothesize that the lake with a more residential area will have a more tolerant composition of bioindicator organisms, but lower diversity compared to a lake with a more a natural area. The samplers were deployed for two weeks four times a year. Specimens were identified to family level, recording the total number of individuals collected. Measuring hexapod abundance and diversity trends seasonally can indicate the overall environmental health of Lake Laurel and Oliver Hardy and reveal trends within native populations. Changes in populations might suggest declines in local environmental quality due to human activities. A comparison of diversity and abundance of known bioindicator hexapods, such as caddisflies and midges, between Lake Oliver Hardy and Lake Laurel might indicate the impact of pollutants and agricultural runoff on each lake. Lake Laurel contains more hexapod orders than Lake Oliver Hardy, and Lake Oliver Hardy experiences higher average annual water temperatures than Lake Laurel. These characteristics may reflect seasonal changes or overall environmental quality of the lakes.


GCSU Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences

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