Global diversity of water beetles (Coleoptera) in freshwater
Authors:M. A. Jäch and M. Balke
Abstract:The global diversity of True Water Beetles, False Water Beetles and Phytophilous Water Beetles (sensu Jäch, 1998a. In Jäch & Ji (eds), Water Beetles of China, Vol. II. Zoologisch-Botanische Gesellschaft in Österreich and Wiener Coleopterologenverein, Wien: 25–42.) is assessed. Facultative Water Beetles, Parasitic Water Beetles and Shore Beetles (sensu Jäch, 1998a. In Jäch & Ji (eds), Water Beetles of China, Vol. II. Zoologisch-Botanische Gesellschaft in Österreich and Wiener Coleopterologenverein, Wien: 25–42.) are here classified as “paraquatic” and are thus not included in the assessment. It is estimated that about 18,000 species of aquatic Coleoptera are roaming the earth at present. About 12,600 (70%) of these are already described (deadline: October 2005). About 30 beetle families have aquatic representatives, and in 25 of these families at least 50% of the species are to be considered as aquatic. Six families are supposed to include 1,000 or more aquatic species: Dytiscidae (3,908 described species/5,000 estimated), Hydraenidae (1,380/2,500), Hydrophilidae (1,800/2,320), Elmidae (1,330/1,850), Scirtidae (900/1,700) and Gyrinidae (750/1,000). Scirtidae and Hydraenidae are regarded as the least explored families, the number of described species in each of these two families probably will be almost doubled in the future. The Palearctic (ca. 3,350 described species/ca. 3,900 estimated), the Neotropical (2,510/3,900) and the Afrotropical Region (2,700/3,750) harbour almost the same number of water beetle species, followed by the Oriental (2,200/3,580) and the Australian/Pacific Realm (1,340/2,100). The Nearctic (1,420/1,550) is by far the poorest region in terms of water beetle diversity.