Global diversity of true bugs (Heteroptera; Insecta) in freshwater
Authors:John T. Polhemus and Dan A. Polhemus
Abstract:The aquatic and semi-aquatic Heteroptera, consisting of the infraorders Leptopodomorpha, Gerromorpha, and Nepomorpha, comprise a significant component of the world’s aquatic insect biota. Within these three infraorders as a whole there are currently 23 families, 343 genera and 4,810 species group taxa considered valid, of which 20 families, 326 genera and 4,656 species inhabit freshwater. In addition, more than 1,100 unequivocally diagnosed species remain to be described. Aquatic Heteroptera occur on all continents except Antarctica, and are most numerous in the tropical regions, although there are many distinctly cold-adapted genera. Overall species richness is highest in the Neotropical and Oriental regions, which harbor 1,289 and 1,103 species, respectively. In comparison to these core tropical regions, species richness is significantly lower in the Afrotropical (799 species), Australasian (654 species), Palearctic (496 species), Nearctic (424 species) and Pacific (37 species) regions. Aquatic Heteroptera are notable for utilizing an exceptionally broad range of habitats, from marine and intertidal to arctic and high alpine, across a global altitudinal range of 0–4,700 m. Species may be found in almost every freshwater biotope, and many exhibit striking morphological adaptations to their aquatic environment, making them excellent subjects for ecological and biogeographic studies.