Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Mac H. Alford

Committee Chair School

Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Committee Member 2

Dr. Bill P. Stark

Committee Member 3

Dr. Donald A. Yee

Committee Member 3 School

Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences


The genus Perlesta Banks, 1906 (Plecoptera: Perlidae) consists of 35 species, 33 native to the United States and Canada and two native to China. For over a century these small, brown stonefly adults and freckled yellow nymphs have gone by the name of the type species of the genus, Perlesta placida, but taxonomic work in the genus since 1989 has resulted in the recognition of additional species. These species were mostly recognized and described using morphological characteristics, but two areas that are lacking include (1) linking nymphs to adults and (2) phylogenetic analysis of all species occurring in Mississippi using DNA data. Three species of Perlesta have been reported for Mississippi (P. lagoi, P. placida, and P. shubuta), but P. placida has no DNA sequences in public DNA repositories. In this project, DNA was gathered from nymphs, females, and males of Perlesta collected in Mississippi to assess their utility for DNA barcoding (linking members of a species by consistent, diagnostic DNA sequences) and to infer a phylogeny using nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. This study revealed a broader degree of molecular variation in individuals from Mississippi relative to species from other states, which suggests greater infraspecific DNA variation in these species or possibly the presence of cryptic species.