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Freshwater invertebrates characteristics data

Cite this dataset

Moreau, Axelle; Dupuy, Christine; Bocher, Pierrick; Farau, Sébastien (2021). Freshwater invertebrates characteristics data [Dataset]. Dryad.


The Freshwater Animal Diversity Assessment (FADA) project estimated that freshwater animal species represent 9.5% of the 1.2 million species described. Knowing that freshwater represents only 0.01% of the earth's surface, these wetlands are suitable habitats for a great part of the world's total biodiversity. However, it has been shown that there is a lack of knowledge on these species, including freshwater invertebrates. Nevertheless, they play a key role in the majority of freshwater ecosystems and in their foodweb networks. Freshwater invertebrates are the food resource of many species such as fish and birds. The knowledge of their morphological, energetic and nutritive characteristics allows a better understanding of their selection by predators (size, energy intake, etc.), but also lead to improve of wetland management. Although information about freshwater invertebrates exists in the literature, they are generally heterogeneous, dispersed and difficult to collect. To facilitate the accessibility of these data and thus optimize and accelerate research projects including freshwater invertebrates, we propose a literature review describing 14 morphological and nutritive characteristics (size, dry weight, gross energy, crude protein, etc.) for 656 taxa of freshwater invertebrates. This dataset is review from 104 publications from 1935 to 2020, compiling 14 characteristics when available (size, dry weight, gross energy, crude protein, etc.) for 656 taxa of freshwater invertebrates.


Steps of database building

  1. Classification and characteristics of freshwater invertebrates: A literature review of the different morphological, calorific and nutritive characteristics of freshwater invertebrates was established. They were classified from phylum to species from three manuals of references (Balian et al. 2008, Thorp and Covich 2009, Thorp and Rogers 2011). In this review, 104 scientific publications were used and 14 criteria were described: total length, head width or shell width, body length or shell length, wet weight, dry weight, gross energy of wet weight, gross energy of dry weight, gross energy of ash free dry weight, crude protein, crude lipid, crude fiber nitrogen free extract, proportion of ash and water.

  2. Referencing and retranscription of literature values: Publications presenting original data or non-published data from another study were cited. Within publications, the values of the different criteria were represented heterogeneously (e.g. different measure units, taxonomic level). Due to this heterogeneity, all values were transformed to obtain a homogeneous set of measurement units and taxonomic level (i.e. μm in mm, µg in mg, Kcal/g in cal/g, J/g in cal/g (1 J = 0.239006 cal), KJ/g in cal/g).


  • Balian EV, Lévêque C, Segers H, Martens K (2008a) Freshwater animal diversity assessment. Edition 1. Springer Netherlands • Balian EV, Segers H, Lévèque C, Martens K (2008b) The freshwater animal diversity assessment: an overview of the results. Hydrobiologia 595 (1): 627‑637. 10.1007/s10750-007-9246-3

  • Thorp JH, Covich AP (2009) Ecology and classification of North American freshwater invertebrates. Third. Elsevier

  • Thorp JH, Rogers DC (2011) Field guide to freshwater invertebrates of North America. Elsevier

Usage notes

This dataset describes 14 characteristics (size, dry weight, gross energy, crude protein, etc.) for 656 taxa of freshwater invertebrates (File :"Database_invertebrates.txt"). Headers corresponding to variable names are included as the first row in the data file. Each characteristic is subdivided into two categories, "value" corresponding to the value of the variable with sometimes a note corresponding to the comment associated with the value ("WS" for "with shell" and "SR" for "shell removed") and "reference" corresponding to the literature reference (File : "Database_references.txt").