Coleoptera of Canada. The Biota of Canada – A biodiversity assessment. Part 1: the terrestrial arthropods


Brunke, A.J., Bouchard, P., Douglas, H.B. and Pentinsaari, M. 2019. Coleoptera of Canada. In:
Langor, D.W., Sheffield, C.S. (Eds) The Biota of Canada – A biodiversity assessment. Part 1: the terrestrial arthropods. ZooKeys 819: 361-376.

Plain language summary

Canada’s beetle fauna is diverse, dynamic and still inadequately known. Many new species remain to be described and most Canadian ecosystems are under-sampled and superficially explored. Still others, including adventive and potentially invasive species from our trading partners, and native species expanding their range northward due to human-induced global climate change, occur unnoticed in Canada. To address these challenges, the authors sought to provide an overview of Canadian beetles, including an analysis targeting the identification of knowledge gaps and areas of research priority. Their analysis included estimates of unrecognized diversity from the world’s expert beetle taxonomists and a large, dataset of DNA sequences acquired from over 77,000 Canadian beetle specimens at the Canadian National Collection of Insect, Arthropods and Nematodes. Their study revealed that as of early 2018, 8302 species of beetles occur in Canada, a 23% increase in known species since the first checklist was created in 1979. A total of 639 non-native species of beetle have been detected in Canada, the majority of which are rove beetles, weevils, leaf beetles and ground beetles. The greatest increase in knowledge has occurred for the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Although the beetle faunas of all provinces and territories remain inadequately known, the central and western regions should be key priority areas for future targeted sampling. The authors estimated that approximately 1000-1200 beetle species remain unreported in Canada, either as new records of species known from the United States, or as undescribed species. The barcode of life DNA reference database on Canadian beetle species is far from comprehensive and needs much data vetting by specialists, but has reached approximately 70% representation after this study (data generated mostly by AAFC’s Genomics Research and Development Initiative project). The beetle groups with the highest number of estimated unrecognized diversity in Canada were the rove beetles, ground beetles, feather-wing beetles, weevils and leaf beetles, most of which are the subject of active taxonomic research at AAFC.


The beetle fauna of Canada was assessed, including estimates of yet unreported diversity using information from taxonomists and COI sequence clusters in a BOLD (Barcode of Life Datasystems) COI dataset comprising over 77,000 Canadian records. To date, 8302 species of Coleoptera have been recorded in Canada, a 23% increase from the first assessment in 1979. By province, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have seen the largest increases in recorded species. Beetle diversity in Canada is highest in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. A total of 639 non-native beetle species have become established in Canada, with most species in the Staphylinidae (153 spp.), Curculionidae (107 spp.), Chrysomelidae (56 spp.) and Carabidae (55 spp.). Based on estimates from the taxonomic community and our BOLD dataset, we estimate that slightly more than 1000 beetle species remain to be reported from Canada, either as new records or undescribed species. Renewed enthusiasm toward and financial support for surveys, especially in the Central and Western provinces of Canada will be critical for detecting, documenting and describing these species. The Barcode of Life database is still far from comprehensive for Canadian Coleoptera but substantial progress has been made and the number of Barcode Index Numbers (BINs) (as candidate species) has reached nearly 70% of the number of species reported from Canada. Comparison of BINs to observed species in a group of Canadian Staphylinidae suggests that BINs may provide a good estimate of species diversity within the beetles. Histeridae is a diverse family in Canada that is notably under- represented in BOLD. Families such as Mordellidae, Scraptiidae, Latridiidae, Ptiliidae and Scirtidae are poorly known taxonomically in Canada and are represented in our BOLD dataset by many more BINs than recorded species.

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