Functional Feeding Groups: Predators

Probably the most notable aquatic predators are the fish; however, many aquatic insects are also predators. Aquatic insect predators consume their prey in one of two primary ways, by either engulfing or piercing. Engulfing predators use their large jaws to capture and engulf their prey, often eating the prey organism nearly whole. Dragonfly and damselfly [...]

Functional Feeding Groups: Piercers

Many terrestrial insects have mouthparts that allow them to pierce plants and suck up liquids. While this is a common strategy for terrestrial insects, it is not as common in aquatic insects. However, spongillaflies pierce and digest Spongilla species (a freshwater sponge). Other groups with species that feed this way include dobsonflies, caddisflies and true [...]

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Functional Feeding Groups: Collectors

There is an old saying, “One man’s waste is another man’s treasure,” and this could not be truer for the next group of invertebrates, the collectors. There are two types of collectors, gatherers and filterers, both equally important. They eat Fine Particulate Organic Matter (FPOM), which can be the particles created by the shredders. The [...]

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Functional Feeding Groups: Shredders

Every fall, deciduous trees lose their leaves and some of them may fall into a stream. What happens to them? A community of organisms, called bacteria and microbes, inhabit a leaf and begin to break down the organic material, making it digestible for aquatic insects. While this is happening, larger organisms such as caddisflies start [...]

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The MSP project is funded by an ESEA, Title II Part B Mathematics and Science Partnership Grant through the Montana Office of Public Instruction. MSP was developed by the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program and faculty from Montana Tech of The University of Montana and Montana State University, with support from other Montana University System Faculty.