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Wetlands are diverse and productive ecosystems endangered by human pressure, which degradation implies a biodiversity loss worldwide. Among the biological assemblages of these habitats, aquatic Coleoptera is one of the most diverse and useful groups when assessing the ecological conditions of the ecosystems they inhabit. The aims of the present study were to analyze the diversity and composition of aquatic Coleoptera assemblages in 24 wetlands protected by the Natura 2000 network of North-western Spain and the influence of environmental variables on the distribution of species, in order to detect differences between the different types of standing water habitats. A total of 11,136 individuals of 105 species belonging to 12 families of aquatic Coleoptera (Gyrinidae, Haliplidae, Noteridae, Paelobiidae, Dytiscidae, Helophoridae, Hydrochidae, Hydrophilidae, Hydraenidae, Scirtidae, Elmidae and Dryopidae) were collected. In general, wetlands presented high richness and diversity values, Dytiscidae and Hydrophilidae having the highest species richness. Most of recorded species have a wide biogeographical distribution and only 12 endemic ones were captured. Cluster and Non-Metric Multi-Dimensional Scaling (NMDS) analyses showed the clustering of the studied ponds and lagoons in four groups based on biological data. In general, the wetlands of each group seem to have distinct aquatic Coleoptera faunas, as showed by the most representative species. A combination of altitude, SST and hydroperiod was the best explaining factor of the distribution of the species throughout the study area. This study shows the high biodiversity of standing water habitats in North-western Spain and the usefulness of water beetles in establishing habitat typologies.
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