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Ephemeroptera: Heptageniidae of Gunnison County, Colorado

Introduction to Cinygmula
Flat headed mayfly, White spotted flathead mayfly, Red Quill

McDunnough 1933

Updated 23 Jan 2016
TSN 100557

The immature Cinygmula on the right was captured and photographed from a small tributary of the East River in early June 2007. The white spots on the head and back of abdomen are camouflage against the multi-colored rocks and gravel in the streams and rivers where they live. Notice just below the antenna you can see the corners of the maxillary palps sticking out of the side of their head. No other Heptageniidae in our area has this feature. Adult Cinygmula often have amber colored wings, however the color is lost in ethanol, so it is only useful in live or recently preserved specimens.

Provisional Species List

Good Links

On this website:
Key for adult male Cinygmula
Cinygmula par
Heptageniidae Introduction

Other Websites:
  • North American Cinygmula list from Mayfly Central http://www.entm.purdue.edu/entomology/research/mayfly/species.html#GenusCinygmula

  • References

    Allan,JD 1987 Macroinvertebrate drift in a Rocky Mountain stream. Hydrobiologia 144, 261-268.
         The author studied Cement Creek in Gunnison County during the spring, summer and fall of 1975-1978. He found that drift densities (number of animals per 100 m³) was 10 times higher at night. 24 hour totals approached 2000 animals/100m³ in mid-summer down to 500 animals/m³ in the fall. Quote from the abstract: "Ephemeroptera, especially Baetis, dominated the drift." He found that benthic density (number of animals/m² from streambed samples) was the best predictor of 24hr drift rate for Cinygmula spp. Adding discharge to the calculation (a stepwise regression) helped predict the number of Cinygmula in the drift.

    Brinkman,SF and Johnston,WD 2012 Acute toxicity of zinc to several aquatic species native to the Rocky Mountains. Archives of environmental contamination and toxicology, 62(2), 272-281.

    Carlisle,Daren M; Clements,William H 2003 Growth and secondary production of aquatic insects along a gradient of Zn contamination in Rocky Mountain streams. Journal North American Benthological Society 22(4), 582-597. Abstract and entire paper

    Clements,WH; Carlisle,DN; Lazorchak,JM; Johnson,PC 2000 Heavy metals structure benthic communities in Colorado mountain streams. Ecological Applications 10(2)626-638. Abstract
         Quote from page 632: "In particular, abundance of the mayflies Rhithrogena robusta (Fig. 5b), Cinygmula sp.(Fig. 5c), and Drunella doddsi(Fig. 5d), and the stonefly Sweltsa sp. (Fig. 5e) was significantly lower at medium- and high-metal stations."

    Colburn,T 1982a Aquatic insects as measures of trace element presence in water: Cadmium and Molybdenum. Aquatic Toxicology and Hazard Assessment: Fith Conference, ASTM STP 766, J.G. Pearson, R.B. Foster, and W.E. Bishop, Eds., American Society for Testing and Materials, pgs 316-325.

    Colburn,T 1982b Measurement of low levels of molybdenum in the environment by using aquatic insects. 29, 422-428.

    Finn,DS and Poff,NL 2008 Emergence and flight activity of alpine stream insects in two years with contrasting winter snowpack. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 40(4)638-646. PDF

    Gill,BA; Harrington,RA; Kondratieff,BC; Zamudio,KR; Poff,NL and Funk,WC 2014 Morphological taxonomy, DNA barcoding, and species diversity in southern Rocky Mountain headwater streams. Freshwater Science 33(1) 288-301.
         Working in wadeable streams on the Front Range of Colorado, they found C. mimus and 3 other cryptic species of Cinygmula.

    Gilpin,BR and Brusven,MA 1970 Food habits and ecology of mayflies of the St. Maries River in Idaho. Melanderia 4:19-40. PDF

    Jensen,SL 1966 The Mayflies of Idaho (Ephemeroptera). M.S. Thesis, University of Utah, Utah. 364 p.
          This is the key I use to identify adults in our area, we also double check the adult males using Slater and Kondratieff 2004.
    Quote from page 151: "The following combinations of charaters serve to distinguish this genus from all other genera of Heptageniidae occurring in Idaho: Adults. (1) Basal segment of the foretarsi of male at least two-thirds as long as the second segment but never equal; (2) forewings usually brown or amber tinted, at least in the basal half, and with basal costal crossveins well developed (Figs. 63-64); (3) penes of male separated to base (Figs 88-93); and (4) subanal plate of female with a well developed V- or U-shaped postero-nedian emargination (Fig 73). Mature nymphs. (1) Three well developed cauudal filaments present; (2) gills on abdominal segments one and seven not enlarged or extending beneath the abdomen, and similar to those on the intermediate segments only smaller; (3) fibrilliform portion of gills absent or reduced to to a few tiny filaments (Fig 82); and (4) front of head distinctly emarginate medially (Fig 76)."


    McCafferty,WP; Durfee,RS; Kondratieff,BC 1993 Colorado mayflies (Ephemeroptera): an annotated inventory. Southwestern Naturalist 38 3, 252-274. PDF
         Quote from page 259-260, the discussion about Cinygmula par. "There is considerable confusion about the identification of Cinygmula species mainly due to the fact that larvae have not been adequately described and compared. Cinymula par and Cinygmula mimus seem often to be confused(see previous records above). It remains unclear as to what species the many references to Cinygmula sp. that appear in published ecological studies actually refer. However, C. par is apparently a high altitude species (it was taken by Dodds in headwater areas between 10,500 and 11,650 feet) that has been referred to under various epithets (See also Traver, 1935; Ward and Berner, 1980)."

    McDunnough J. 1933 The nymph of Cinygma integrum and description of a new heptagenine genus. Canadian Entomologist 65:73-76.
         McDunnough describes the genus Cinygmula in this paper.


    Peckarsky,BL 1980 Influence of detritus on colonization of stream invertebrates. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 37, 957-963.

    Peckarsky,BL 1983 Biotic interactions or abiotic limitations? A model of lotic community structure. In: Dynamics of Lotic Ecosystems. Eds: Fontaine III,Thomas D; Bartell,Steven M Ann Arbor Science, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 303-323.

    Peckarsky,BL 1985 Do predaceous stoneflies and siltation affect the structure of stream insect communities colonizing enclosures? Canadian Journal of Zoology 63, 1519-1530. PDF

    Peckarsky,BL 1991a A field test of resource depression by predatory stonefly larvae. Oikos 61 1, 3-10.

    Peckarsky,BL 1991b Is there a coevolutionary arms race between predators and prey? A case study with stoneflies and mayflies. Advances in Ecology 1, 167-180.

    Robinson,CT and Minshall,GW 1986 Effects of disturbance frequency on stream benthic community structure in relation to canopy cover and season. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 237-248. PDF
         Abstract: " Field experiments were conducted to examine the effects of disturbance frequency on invertebrates and periphyton colonizing bricks in a third order Rocky Mountain (USA) stream. After an initial colonization period (30 days), sets of bricks were turned over at intervals of 0, 3, 9, 27, or 54 days. Invertebrate species richness and density were reduced as disturbance frequency increased. These trends were evident for both seasons (summer and fall) and sites (open vs. closed canopy). Invertebrate species diversity (H') displayed no effect during the fall experiment; however, H' was reduced at high frequencies of disturbance during the summer experiment. Baetis tricaudatus was the most abundant invertebrate on the substrata at both sites and seasons. Alloperla, Baetis, Cinygmula, Chironomidae, Drunella grandis, Hydropsyche, and Seratella tibialis increased in absolute abundances as disturbance frequency decreased. Four other abundant taxa (Capnia, Cleptelmis, Glossosoma, and Isoperla) displayed no clear response to disturbance in either absolute or relative abundances. Species in low abundance tended to colonize only the less frequently disturbed bricks. During both seasons, periphyton biomass increased as disturbance frequency decreased at the open canopy site, while no trend was apparent at the closed canopy site. Periphyton accumulation monitored over time and among treatments revealed that frequent disturbances maintained low standing crops at an open canopy site. These data suggest that disturbance frequency can directly influence the benthic community at the scale of individual rock "islands" by reducing invertebrate richness, total animal density, and periphyton biomass. The effect of disturbance on species diversity (H') was seasonal, further emphasizing the importance of considering seasonality in stream field studies. "

    Slater,J and Kondratieff,BC 2004 A review of the mayfly genus Cinygmula McDunnough (Ephemeroptera: Heptageniidae) in Colorado. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 77(2): 121-126.PDF
         This is very helpful required to identify local Cinygmula adult males.

    Stewart,KW and Szczytko,SW 1983 Drift of Ephemeroptera and Plecoptera in two Colorado rivers. Freshwater Invertebrate Biology. 2(3)117-131. PDF

    Stitt,RP Rockwell,RW Legg,DE and Lockwood,JA 2006 Evaluation of Cinygmula (Ephemeroptera: Heptageniidae) drift behavior as an indicator of aqueous copper contamination. Journal of the Kentucky Academy of Science 67(2) 102-108. PDF
         Abstract: " We designed an in situ assay for investigating macroinvertebrate drift behavior in response to a point source of environmental pollution. As a model, we used Cinygmula nymphs to assess both the presence and level of copper contamination in a stream that was polluted with effluent from an abandoned copper mine. The study showed that Cinygmula exhibited increased tendency to drift with increased exposure to aqueous copper. Cinygmula drift behavior exhibited graded responses to increasing concentrations of aqueous copper up to and including 78 ppb. The results indicated that a simple yet sensitive in situ bioassay could be used to detect environmentally important levels of copper contamination in Haggarty Creek. " This research was conducted near the Ferris-Haggarty Mine in Carbon County, Wyoming.

    Wellnitz,T 2014 Can current velocity mediate trophic cascades in a mountain stream?. Freshwater Biology, 59(11) 2245-2255. PDF

    Wipfli,MS, Hudson,J and Caouette,J 1998 Influence of salmon carcasses on stream productivity: response of biofilm and benthic macroinvertebrates in southeastern Alaska, U.S.A. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 55(6): 1503-1511 Abstract



    Perlodid stonefly enjoying a Spotted Cinygmula for lunch.
    Caught and released from the Upper East river 2 Aug 2011.

    Wendy Brown 2004 Mayflies (Ephemeroptera) of Gunnison County, Colorado, USA
    www.gunnisoninsects.org