Global diversity of true bugs (Heteroptera; Insecta) in freshwater

  • John T. PolhemusEmail author
  • Dan A. Polhemus
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 198)


The aquatic and semi-aquatic Heteroptera, consisting of the infraorders Leptopodomorpha, Gerromorpha, and Nepomorpha, comprise a signifi- cant 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.


Heteroptera Aquatic Diversity Richness Distribution Endemism 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andersen, N. M., 1982. The semiaquatic bugs (Hemiptera, Gerromorpha). Phylogeny, adaptations, biogeography, and classification. Entomonograph 3: 1–455.Google Scholar
  2. Andersen, N. M. & T. A. Weir, 2004. Australian water bugs. Their biology and identification (Hemiptera-Heteroptera, Gerromorpha & Nepomorpha). Entomonograph 14: 344 pp., 8 col. pls., text figs., maps.Google Scholar
  3. Arnqvist, G., T. M. Jones & M. A. Elgar, 2003. Reversal of sex roles in nuptial feeding. Nature 424: 387.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aukema, B., 2003. Recent changes in the Dutch Heteroptera fauna (Insecta: Hemiptera). Proceedings of the 13th International colloqium European Invertebrate Survey, September 2001, pp. 39–52.Google Scholar
  5. Aukema, B. & C. Rieger (eds) Catalogue of the Heteroptera of the Palearctic Region. Netherlands Entomological Society, Amsterdam, Vol. 1, xxvi + 222 pp.Google Scholar
  6. Chen, P. P., N. Nieser & H. Zettel, 2005. The aquatic and semiaquatic bugs (Heteroptera: Nepomorpha & Gerromorpha) of Malesia. Fauna Malesiana Handbook 5: 1–546.Google Scholar
  7. Hebsgaard, M. B., N. M. Andersen & J. Damgaard, 2004. Phylogeny of the true water bugs (Nepomorpha: Hemiptera-Heteroptera) based on 16S rDNA and morphology. Systematic Entomology 29: 488–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Henry, T. J. & R. C. Froeschner, 1988. Catalog of the Heteroptera or True Bugs of Canada and the Continental United States. Brill, Leiden, New York, i–xix, 958 pp.Google Scholar
  9. Jansson, A., 1977. Micronectae (Heteroptera, Corixidae) as indicators of water quality in two lakes in southern Finland. Annales Zoologici Fennici 14: 118–124.Google Scholar
  10. Mahner, M., 1993. Systema Cryptoceratum Phylogeneticum (Insecta Heteroptera). Zoologica, Stuttgart, Heft 143. ix + 302 pp.Google Scholar
  11. Mittermeier, R. A., N. Meyers, J. B. Thomsen, G. A. B. da Fonseca & S. Olivieri, 1998. Biodiversity hotspots and major tropical wilderness areas: Approaches to setting conservation priorities. Conservation Biology 12(3): 516–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Polhemus, J. T., 1985. Shore Bugs (Heteroptera, Hemiptera; Saldidae). A World Overview and Taxonomy of Middle American Forms. The Different Drummer, Englewood, Colorado, v + 252 pp.Google Scholar
  13. Polhemus, D. A., 1994. Conservation of aquatic insects: Worldwide crisis or localized threats? American Zoologist 33: 588–598.Google Scholar
  14. Polhemus, D. A., 1996. Island arcs and their influence on Indo-Pacific biogeography (pp. 51–66). In: Keast, A. & S. L. Miller (eds), The Origin and Evolution of Pacific Island Biotas, New Guinea to Eastern Polynesia: Patterns and Processes. SPB Publishing, Amsterdam, viii + 531 pp.Google Scholar
  15. Polhemus, J. T., 2000. North American Mesozoic aquatic Heteroptera (Insecta, Naucoroidea, Nepoidea) from the Todilto Formation, New Mexico (pp. 29–40). In Lucas, S. G. (ed.), New Mexico’s Fossil Record 2. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin No. 16, vi + 284 pp.Google Scholar
  16. Polhemus, D. A., R. A. Englund & G. Allen, 2004. Freshwater biotas of New Guinea and nearby islands: Analysis of endemism, richness and threats. Pacific Biological Survey Contribution 2004-004: 1–68 for Conservation International, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  17. Polhemus, D. A., J. Maciolek & J. Ford, 1992. An ecosystem classification of inland waters for the tropical Pacific. Micronesica 25: 155–173.Google Scholar
  18. Polhemus, D. A. & J. T. Polhemus, 1998. Assembling New Guinea: 40 million years of island arc accretion as indicated by the distributions of aquatic Heteroptera (Insecta) (pp. 327–340). In Hall, R. & J. D. Holloway (eds), Biogeography and Geological Evolution of SE Asia. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, ii + 417 pp., 167 figs., 12 col. pls.Google Scholar
  19. Polhemus, D. A. & J. T. Polhemus, 2002. Basins and Ranges: The Biogeography of Aquatic True Bugs in the Great Basin, Vol. 33. Smithsonian Institution Contributions to the Earth Sciences, 235–254.Google Scholar
  20. Polhemus, J. T. & D. A. Polhemus, 2002. The Trepobatinae (Gerridae) of New Guinea and surrounding regions, with a review of the world fauna. Part 6. Phylogeny, biogeography, world checklist, bibliography and final taxonomic addenda. Insect Systematics and Evolution 33: 253–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Polhemus, D. A. & J. T. Polhemus, 2005. Two new genera and thirty new species of Microveliinae (Heteroptera: Veliidae) from the East Papua Composite Terrane, far eastern New Guinea. Tijdschrift voor Entomologie 147: 113–189.Google Scholar
  22. Polhemus, J. T. & D. A. Polhemus, 2006. The marine Heteroptera of far eastern New Guinea and adjacent archiplelagoes (Insecta: Gerromorpha). Denisia 19: 927–982.Google Scholar
  23. Polhemus, J. T. & D. A. Polhemus (in press). Global trends in the description of aquatic and semiaquatic Heteroptera species, 1758–2004. Tijdschrift voor Entomologie 150(2).Google Scholar
  24. Schuh, R. T., B. Galil & J. T. Polhemus, 1987. Catalog and bibliography of Leptopodomorpha (Heteroptera). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 185(3): 243–406.Google Scholar
  25. Schuh, R. T. & J. T. Polhemus, 1980. Analysis of taxonomic congruence among morphological, ecological, and biogeographic data sets for the Leptopodomorpha (Hemiptera). Systematic Zoology 29: 1–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Schuh, R. T. & J. A. Slater, 1995. True Bugs of the World (Hemiptera: Heteroptera). Classification and Natural History. Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, xii + 336 pp.Google Scholar
  27. Tomokuni, M., M. Sato, N. Ichikawa, Y. Araki & S. Nishu, 1995. Two Japanese Aphelocheirus species (Naucoridae), A. kawamurae presumably extinct and A. nawae still surviving in Hyogo Prefecture. Rostria 44: 21–25.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Colorado Entomological InstituteEnglewoodUSA
  2. 2.Department of EntomologySmithsonian InstitutionWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Natural SciencesBishop MuseumHonoluluUSA

Personalised recommendations