• water beetles;
  • biodiversity conservation;
  • complementarity;
  • Protected Natural Spaces;
  • semi-arid Mediterranean region


  • 1.
    In this work, carried out in the province of Murcia, a representative semi-arid area of the Iberian Peninsula, water beetles were used as indicators to identify the aquatic ecosystems with the highest interest for conservation. For that purpose, an iterative algorithm of complementarity based on the richness of aquatic Coleoptera was applied. ‘Complementarity’ refers to the degree to which an area, or set of areas, contributes otherwise unrepresented attributes to a set of areas. This principle was used to maximize the number of species represented within a given number of areas.
  • 2.
    Only the species subsets whose taxonomic status, presence and distribution in the study area are well known were used. In total, 146 species were included, of which 12 are Iberian endemics and 32 are rare species (found only in one grid cell in the study area).
  • 3.
    The highest correlation was generally shown by species richness with endemic, rare and vulnerable species richness. Thus, basing conservation strategies on species richness appears to be an effective protocol.
  • 4.
    To preserve the highest degree of biodiversity in the aquatic ecosystems of the study area, the following need to be protected: (a) headwater streams in the north west of the province; (b) the uppermost reaches of the Segura River; (c) hypersaline and coastal ramblas; (d) rock pools and coastal ponds.
  • 5.
    The present network of Protected Natural Spaces in the study area does not include many of the aquatic ecosystems shown to have the highest biodiversity of beetles. However, the future European ‘Natura 2000’ network will protect the 10 grid cells of highest aquatic biodiverstity, or at least part of them.

Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.