Plecoptera are an order of insects, commonly known as stoneflies. There are some 3,500 described species worldwide (Fochetti & Tierno de Figueroa 2008), with new species still being discovered. Stoneflies are found worldwide, except Antarctica. Stoneflies are believed to be one of the most primitive groups of Neoptera, with close relatives identified from the Carboniferous and Lower Permian geological periods, while true stoneflies are known from fossils only a bit younger. The modern diversity however apparently is of Mesozoic origin (Zwick 2000).
Plecoptera are found in both the Southern and Northern hemispheres, and the populations are quite distinct although the evolutionary evidence suggests that species may have crossed the equator on a number of occasions before once again becoming geographically isolated (Hynes 1993, Zwick 2000).
All species of Plecoptera are intolerant of water pollution and their presence in a stream or still water is usually an indicator of good or excellent water quality.
- Fochetti, R. & J. M. Tierno de Figueroa (2008). Global diversity of stoneflies (Plecoptera; Insecta) in freshwater. In E. V. Balian, C. Lévêque, H. Segers & K. Martens. "Freshwater Animal Diversity Assessment". Hydrobiologia 595: 265–377. doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-8259-7_39
- Hynes, H. B. N. (1993). Adults and Nymphs of British Stoneflies. Freshwater Biological Association. ISBN 0-900386-28-2.
- Zwick, P. (2000). "Phylogenetic system and zoogeography of the Plecoptera". Annual Review of Entomology 45: 709–746. doi:10.1146/annurev.ento.45.1.709