About this project

We are trying to understand the effects of urbanization on communities of caddisflies in different geographical areas in the U.S. and Canada. We hope to be able to expand this project to new topics and locations in the future!

We would like to be able to compare caddisfly communities between urban and more natural river systems in many different locations. This is where we need your help! Read more about our project below, click the link to view the procedure for volunteering to collect samples, or go ahead and sign up to show your interest!

What are caddisflies?

Caddisflies are insects in the order Trichoptera. They are closely related to moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera). Like lepidopterans, caddisflies have a larval and pupal stage before turning into winged adults. Caddisfly larvae, however, are different because they live underwater. Caddisfly larvae are found all over the world and can live in many different freshwater habitats. Different species eat different types of food, including plant material and algae, small bits of detritus, or other aquatic invertebrates. There are over 1,400 species of caddisflies in the U.S. and Canada, within 27 families. Check out some great photos of caddisfly larvae on Macroinvertebrates.org!

Because of their diverse roles in aquatic environments, caddisflies are important to study. They can also be used as bio-indicators for the health of an aquatic habitat: the number and identity of species present within a stream, for example, can give researchers information on how clean or polluted that stream is.

Why is urbanization important to understand?

Cities are important parts of the landscape. All over the world, they have large impacts on species and ecological processes: sometimes, new species get introduced by human activities while other pre-existing species are disadvantaged and even extirpated by the changes that come with urbanization.

There is ongoing research focused on how the geographic context of a city may influence the trajectory of urban environments, and it is especially important to learn more about this with regards to freshwater ecosystems. Stream environments are known to be affected by urbanization in many general ways (e.g., increased temperature, pollution, changes in morphology and hydrology, and decreased biodiversity), however there are many more nuances that require more study. A the ecological community level, we are interested in learning more about how the historical distribution of species and traits impacts responses to urbanization.

Where are data coming from?

We will update the map with more points as more volunteers sign up!

Who are we?

The Caddisfly Collective is a project started in 2021 by Kelly Murray-Stoker, a PhD student at the University of Toronto in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Her advisor on this and other projects is Dr. Shannon McCauley. We are based in the Biology Department at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus.

Kelly Murray-Stoker

Other advisors on this project are Dr. John Morse (Clemson University, SC, USA), Dr. Doug Currie (UofT EEB, Royal Ontario Museum, ON, Canada), and Dr. Marie-Joseé Fortin (UofT EEB, ON, Canada).

This project is supported by the UTM Centre for Urban Environments and the Toronto Entomologists’ Association.

Please let us know if you also research caddisflies, other aquatic insects, or freshwater ecology, and would be interested in joining this “collective” and collaborating on future research endeavors! info@caddisflycollective.com