This atlas concerns the predaceous water beetles, or Hydradephaga – the whirligig beetles (Gyrinidae), the crawling water beetles (Haliplidae), one species of squeak beetle (Paelobiidae), the burrowing water beetles (Noteridae), and the diving beetles (Dytiscidae). One hundred and fifty-four species are reviewed here, 152 of them from Britain, 113 from Ireland, and 72 from the Isle of Man, with an additional two recorded only from the Channel Isles.
The earliest records of water beetles in these islands include those of Charles Darwin, when active in Cambridgeshire in the 1820s. However it was Professor Frank Balfour-Browne who pioneered British and Irish water beetle recording, generating 28,000 records between 1891 and 1957, as well as collating those of others, providing a solid foundation for the present recording scheme which began in 1979. The present atlas is based on around 276,000 records of the five beetle families included.
Atlas of the Predaceous Water Beetles (Hydradephaga) of Britain and Ireland would not have been possible without the efforts of many water beetle enthusiasts and the support of the Biological Records Centre. In an age where digital recording often dominates, a hard-copy atlas can still bring added value. Such works are places to provide a compendium as to what is known about the biology of each species and to speculate on what still needs to be done, not just in terms of gaps in basic recording, but also research focused on explaining the distributions seen on the maps – in some respects the very questions that motivated Professor Frank Balfour-Browne to start the recording scheme back in 1904!