Using a large database on the spatial distribution of European springtails (Collembola) we investigated how range sizes and range distribution across European countries and major islands vary. Irrespective of ecological guild, islands tended to contain more endemic species than mainland countries. Nestedness and species co-occurrence analysis based on country species lists revealed latitudinal and longitudinal gradients of species occurrences across Europe. Species range sizes were much more coherent and had fewer isolated occurrences than expected from a null model based on random colonization. We did not detect clear postglacial colonization trajectories that shaped the faunal composition across Europe. Our results are consistent with a multiregional postglacial colonization. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, 105, 498–506.