Effects of cattle grazing on Platte River caddisflies (Ironoquia plattensis) in central Nebraska

Mary J. Harner, Keith Geluso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The Platte River caddisfly (Ironoquia plattensis) is a semiterrestrial limnephilid that inhabits sloughs along the Platte River in central Nebraska (USA). The species was discovered in 1997, and little is known about what controls its limited distribution or threatens its existence. We investigated effects of grazing by cattle (Bos taurus) on caddisfly abundance in a grassland slough. In April 2010, we established exclosures to isolate cattle from areas with caddisflies. We measured aquatic larval densities in April 2010 and 2011. We estimated grazing intensity from the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) values extracted from aerial images made in autumn 2010. Grazing intensity varied among plots, but ungrazed plots had more vegetation (higher NDVI values) than grazed plots. In April 2011, larval densities were greater in ungrazed than in grazed plots. Larval densities and NDVI values were strongly positively correlated, a result suggesting that reduction in vegetative cover from grazing was associated with decreased densities of caddisflies. Increased vegetative cover may have provided structure needed for adult courtship and inputs of organic matter to support larval feeding. Repeated, season-long grazing may have long-term negative consequences for the Platte River caddisfly in grassland sloughs when vegetation does not recover and other effects of cattle persist year after year. Resting pastures from grazing to permit vegetation to rebound appears to allow cattle and Platte River caddisflies to coexist in sloughs along the Platte River.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-394
Number of pages6
JournalFreshwater Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Ironoquia plattensis
  • NDVI
  • Nebraska
  • Platte River
  • Platte River caddisfly
  • aquatic density
  • grazing
  • slough
  • vegetation structure
  • wetlands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Aquatic Science


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