- 1.The objectives of the present study were to describe and analyse the composition and structure of aquatic Coleoptera and Hemiptera assemblages in three coastal lagoons of north-western Spain during a one year cycle, in order to evaluate their relative adequacy to provide information about the conservation value of lagoonal habitats and sites. The lagoons are designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) under the European Union Habitats Directive and two of them are also protected by the Ramsar Agreement. Several abiotic variables, including salinity, were recorded at the time of sampling.
- 2.In total, 67 species (52 Coleoptera and 15 Hemiptera) and 6568 adult individuals (2664 Coleoptera and 3904 Hemiptera) were collected. In all pair-wise comparisons Kendall's coefficients of concordance between lagoons were higher for Hemiptera than for Coleoptera, indicating that Hemiptera assemblages were more similar across sites.
- 3.Most species recorded had a wide Palearctic distribution and only three species of water beetles could be considered endemic to Iberia: Hydroporus vagepictus, Hydroporus vespertinus and Hydrochus angusi. Similarly, the species collected had a widespread distribution in the Iberian Peninsula as the only species considered to be rare taxa at this scale were Hydrochus angusi and Cymbiodyta marginella among the Coleoptera and Sigara scotti and Notonecta glauca glauca among the Hemiptera.
- 4.The results do not support the idea of distinct aquatic insect assemblages for coastal lagoons in the Iberian Peninsula. Comparisons of the numbers of interior (non-coastal) and coastal provinces of the Iberian Peninsula where the species had been recorded showed they had been recorded in a larger proportion of interior provinces.
- 5.Salinity seemed to reduce species richness in both groups while the results of a canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) showed that the majority of species responded negatively to salinity.
- 6.This study suggests that species richness and rarity of aquatic insect assemblages may underestimate the conservation value of lagoonal habitats because their net contribution to catchment biodiversity is likely to be low.
Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.