Reconstructing fish populations using Chaoborus (Diptera: Chaoboridae) remains - a review

Jon N. Sweetman, John P. Smol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Fish are an important component of many lakes, and a valuable resource in many countries, yet knowledge of how fish populations have fluctuated in the past is very limited. One potential source of information on fisheries dynamics is paleolimnology. This paper reviews the use of the sedimentary remains of the dipteran insect Chaoborus (commonly referred to as the phantom midge) in reconstructing past presence or absence of fish populations. We provide a brief overview of the ecology of Chaoborus larvae, and review the factors believed to be important in determining their distribution and abundance. In particular, we outline the important role fish have in structuring chaoborid assemblages. We highlight several recent studies utilizing Chaoborus remains in reconstructing past fish dynamics, including their use in determining the effects of acidification and piscicide additions on fish populations, and to tracing fish introductions into previously fishless lakes. We conclude by discussing the potential applications of other aquatic invertebrates, such as the Cladocera and Chironomidae, to infer changes in fish populations, and suggest that by integrating the information provided by these different proxies, we may further improve our ability to infer changes in past fish populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2013-2023
Number of pages11
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Issue number15-16
StatePublished - Aug 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology

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