, Volume 563, Issue 1, pp 277–287 | Cite as

Incidence of Mentum Deformities in Midge Larvae (Diptera:Chironomidae) from Northern Nova Scotia, Canada

  • Erin E. MacDonald
  • Barry R. Taylor
Primary Research Paper


Deformities in the mouthparts of larval Chironomidae, particularly of the teeth on the mentum, have been proposed as a bioindicator of sediment quality and environmental stress. Most work to date has concentrated on relatively few abundant, responsive genera common in soft-bottom lakes. We examined mentum deformities in 25 genera of Chironominae, Orthocladiinae and Diamesinae (one genus) from streams and a lake in rural Nova Scotia where farming and forestry are the principal land uses. Incidence of deformity at similar stream sites varied across genera from zero to >10%. Average frequencies of deformity across all three subfamilies at sites with no known sources of contamination ranged from <4% to 8%, and increased to nearly 15% at a site receiving treated municipal sewage effluent. Differences in chironomid community structure and rates of leaf litter decomposition above and below the sewage effluent outfall were congruent with the difference in mentum deformities. Frequencies of deformity observed here are an order of magnitude greater than in similar studies of rural areas. Low-level stress from agriculture or forest harvesting may be widespread in rural regions even in aquatic ecosystems that are seemingly free of industrial discharges or sediment contamination.


Chironomidae midges deformities toxicity sediment quality litter decomposition 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologySt. Francis Xavier UniversityNova ScotiaCanada

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