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Burrowing mayflies (Hexagenia), which are widespread in the Western Hemisphere, are important members of aquatic ecosystems, where they convert organic detritus and its contained biota into food for many fish species. Their distribution has been altered by pollution, and they offer distinct advantages over fish as concentrators and indicators of aquatic contamination. Their biology is well known. Because they are easily cultured, handled, and observed, Hexagenia nymphs are excellent toxicity test organisms. When supplied with inert artificial substrates, nymphs are useful in a variety of static and flow-through bioassay procedures (acute or chronic).
Hexagenia, mayfly, Ephemeroptera, toxicity test, bioassay, indicator species, invertebrates, aquatic toxicology
Professor of biology, Winona State University, Winona, Minn.
Fishery biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Columbia National Fishery Research Laboratory, Columbia, Mo.