Variation in genetic structure among populations of the caddisfly Helicopsyche borealis from three streams in northern California, U.S.A.

350 210 Stroud Water Research Center

Jackson, J.K., and V.H. Resh. 1992. Freshwater Biology 27:29–42.

doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2427.1992.tb00520.x


  1. Allozyme electrophoresis was used to describe the genetic structure of Helicopsyche borealis caddisflies collected from three sites in each of three streams in northern California, U.S.A.: the Rice Fork of the Eel River; Big Sulphur Creek; and Alameda Creek. Between 7 and 11km separated adjacent sites within these three streams. Helicopsyche borealis from three additional streams in eastern North America (Christiana Creek, Indiana; Byrd’s Mill Creek, Oklahoma; Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania) were also analysed electrophoretically to address taxonomic questions that arose during the study.
  2. Four genetically distinct groups of individuals were identified (i.e. Helicopsyche types A, B, C, and D). Lack of interbreeding between sympatric groups (as evidenced by fixed allelic differences) and large genetic differences (mean Nei’s genetic distances = 0.396–0.693) indicate that these four groups of Helicopsyche were actually reproductively isolated species rather than genetic variants of a single species.
  3. Occurrence of Helicopsyche type A at multiple sites permitted an analysis of spatial variation in genetic structure. Within a drainage basin, small differences in allele frequencies were observed among sites in the Rice Fork and Big Sulphur Creek, but not in Alameda Creek. Larger genetic differences were found among sites in separate drainage basins. Genetic distances (Nei’s) between Helicopsyche type A from California and from eastern North America sites (mean = 0.236) were greater than interpopulation differences commonly observed for insects, which suggests that Helicopsychetype A from California may represent a different species than Helicopsyche type A from eastern North America.
  4. Geographical and taxonomic differences observed in this study underscore the importance of understanding both population structure and genetic relationships among populations in the design and interpretation of stream faunal studies.