Order Coleoptera

Document Type

Book Chapter

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Biological Sciences


Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences


With their incredible diversity (∼12,000 species) and abundance throughout a myriad of aquatic habitats, the Coleoptera are one of the major taxa that are essential to the functioning of aquatic systems. This chapters considers their major anatomical, ecological, systematic, and evolutionally characteristics of the approximately 36 families of beetles that can be found in and around water. The affinity to water ranges from very loose associations where adults may hunt near the land-water interface, to highly obligate associations where larvae and adults spend almost their entire life-cycle submerged. Such habitats where aquatic beetles are found include lakes, streams, ponds, on waterfalls, springs, underground springs, seeps, and phytotelmata. Within these habitats aquatic beetles vary in the potential effects on others species, including acting as predators, algae scrapers, plant parasites, and filter feeders. They are also food for a wide variety of taxa, and thus in both their roles are consumer and prey they sever as important components of the food webs of these aquatic habitats. Aquatic beetles exhibit remarkable adaptations to the living in water, including specific and unique adaptations in respiration, morphology, behavior, and chemical ecology. The Coleoptera are one of the most compelling aquatic insects, and with continued research into their biology additional insights and discoveries will no doubt come to light.

Publication Title

Thorp and Covich's Freshwater Invertebrates

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