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Andrew Short
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taxon links [up-->]Laccobiini [up-->]Hydrophilini [up-->]Berosini [up-->]Sperchopsini [up-->]Chaetarthriini [up-->]Anacaenini extinct icon Not MonophyleticMonophyly UncertainPhylogenetic position of group is uncertain[down<--]Hydrophilidae Interpreting the tree
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The root of the current tree connects the organisms featured in this tree to their containing group and the rest of the Tree of Life. The basal branching point in the tree represents the ancestor of the other groups in the tree. This ancestor diversified over time into several descendent subgroups, which are represented as internal nodes and terminal taxa to the right.

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Containing group: Hydrophilidae


Members of the subfamily Hydrophilinae are the most well-known of the subfamily Hydrophilidae.  Ranging in size from 1 to more than 50 mm, the group is highly varied in form, habitat, and behavior and is a common (and often abundant) component of freshwater (and a few terrestrial) habitats around the world (Hansen, 1991).

Although containing over 60 genera, roughly half the species are contained in just four of these: Berosus, Laccobius, Enochrus, and Helochares (Hansen, 1999). Each of these genera that comprise the “Big 4” occur in all major biogeographic regions except Antarctica. All four are also divided into a number of subgenera.

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

The relationships among the six tribes that comprise the subfamily are far from resolved. Half of these tribes have been suggested to be non-monophyletic as presently delimited (Archangeksly 2004, Komarek & Beutel 2007).


Archangelsky, M. 2004. Higher-level phylogeny of Hydrophilinae (Coleoptera: Hydrophilidae) based on larval, pupal, and adult characters. Systematic Entomology 29: 188214.

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

Hansen, M. 1999. World Catalogue of Insects 2: Hydrophiloidea (Coleoptera). Stenstrup, Apollo Books, 416 pp.

Komarek, A. & Beutel, R.G. 2007. Phylogenetic analysis of Anacaenini (Coleoptera: Hydrophilidae: Hydrophilinae) based on morphological characters of adults. Systematic Entomology, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-3113.2006.00359.x.

Title Illustrations
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Scientific Name Hydrophilus ovatus
Location Durham County, North Carolina, USA
View Dorsal
Size 32 mm
Source Giant Water Scavenger Beetle - Hydrophilus ovatus
Source Collection BugGuide.Net
Image Use creative commons This media file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License - Version 2.0.
Copyright © 2004 Patrick Coin
About This Page

Andrew Short
University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, USA

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Andrew Short at

Page: Tree of Life Hydrophilinae. Authored by Andrew Short. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Short, Andrew. 2007. Hydrophilinae. Version 29 June 2007 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Hydrophilinae/9216/2007.06.29 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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Each ToL branch page provides a synopsis of the characteristics of a group of organisms representing a branch of the Tree of Life. The major distinction between a branch and a leaf of the Tree of Life is that each branch can be further subdivided into descendent branches, that is, subgroups representing distinct genetic lineages.

For a more detailed explanation of the different ToL page types, have a look at the Structure of the Tree of Life page.

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