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Water scavenger beetles

Michael S. Caterino
Containing group: Hydrophiloidea


The Hydrophilidae are a primarily aquatic group of beetles, probably the largest such group in the Coleoptera. Most species are predacious as larvae and generally saprophagous as adults (Hansen, 1997). In addition to the primitively aquatic forms, one large lineage (Sphaeridiinae) has become secondarily terrestrial.

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

The monophyly of the group is unquestioned, and is supported by numerous synapomorphies, morphological and behavioral. However, although relationships among the subfamilies have received much recent attention (Hansen, 1991; Beutel, 1994; Hansen, 1995; Archangelsky, 1998; Beutel, 1999), there has been little agreement; a consensus of available cladograms would produce an entirely unresolved topology.


Archangelsky, M. 1998. Phylogeny of Hydrophiloidea using characters from adult and preimaginal stages. Systematic Entomology 23:9-24.

Beutel, R. G. 1994. Phylogenetic analysis of Hydrophiloidea based on characters of the head of adults and larvae. Koleopterologische Rundschau 64:103-131.

Beutel, R. G. 1999. Morphology and evolution of the larval head of Hydrophiloidea and Histeroidea. Tijdschrift voor Entomologie 142:9-30.

Hansen, M. 1991. The hydrophiloid beetles. Phylogeny, classification and a revision of the genera. Biologiske Skrifter 40:1-368.

Hansen, M. 1995. Evolution and classification of the Hydrophiloidea - A systematic review. Pages 321-353 in Biology, Phylogeny, and Classification of the Coleoptera: Papers Celebrating the 80th Birthday of Roy A. Crowson (J. Pakaluk, and S. A. Slipinski, eds.). Muzeum i Instytut Zoologii PAN, Warsaw.

Van Tassell, E. R. 2001. Hydrophilidae. pp. 187-208 in Arnett, R.H., Jr., and M. C. Thomas. (eds.). American Beetles. Volume 1. Archostemata, Myxophaga, Adephaga, Polyphaga: Staphyliniformia. CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton, FL. xvi + 443 pp.

Information on the Internet

A Bibliographic Compilation on the Immature Stages of Hydrophiloidea
Title Illustrations
Scientific Name Hydrochus
Specimen Condition Dead Specimen
Copyright © 2002
Scientific Name Epimetopus
Specimen Condition Dead Specimen
Copyright © 2002
Scientific Name Tropisternus
Specimen Condition Dead Specimen
Copyright © 2002
About This Page

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
2559 Puesta del Sol Rd.
Santa Barbara, CA 93105 USA

Citing this page:

Caterino, Michael S. 2002. Hydrophilidae. Water scavenger beetles. Version 01 January 2002 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Hydrophilidae/9224/2002.01.01 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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