Eur. J. Entomol. 114: 147-159, 2017 | 10.14411/eje.2017.020

The diversity of feeding habits recorded for water boatmen (Heteroptera: Corixoidea) world-wide with implications for evaluating information on the diet of aquatic insects

Christian W. HÄDICKE1,*, Dávid RÉDEI2,3, Petr KMENT4
1 University of Rostock, Institute of Biosciences, Chair of Zoology, Universitätsplatz 2, 18055 Rostock, Germany
2 Institute of Entomology, College of Life Sciences, Nankai University, Weijin Rd. 94, 300071 Tianjin, China; e-mail: david.redei@gmail.com
3 Hungarian Natural History Museum, Department of Zoology, 1088 Budapest, Baross u. 13, Hungary
4 National Museum, Department of Entomology, Cirkusová 1740, CZ-193 00 Praha 9 - Horní Poèernice, Czech Republic; e-mail: sigara@post.cz
* Present address: Brandenburg State Office of Environment, Tramper Damm 2, 16225 Eberswalde, Germany; e-mail: christian-haedicke@gmx.de

Food webs are of crucial importance for understanding any ecosystem. The accuracy of food web and ecosystem models rests on the reliability of the information on the feeding habits of the species involved. Water boatmen (Corixoidea) is the most diverse superfamily of water bugs (Heteroptera: Nepomorpha), frequently the most abundant group of insects in a variety of freshwater habitats worldwide. In spite of their high biomass, the importance of water boatmen in aquatic ecosystems is frequently underestimated. The diet and feeding habits of Corixoidea are unclear as published data are frequently contradictory. We summarise information on the feeding habits of this taxon, which exemplify the difficulties in evaluating published data on feeding habits in an invertebrate taxon. It is concluded that Corixoidea are, unlike other true bugs, capable of digesting solid food, but their feeding habits are still insufficiently known. The dominant feeding strategy in this taxon is zoophagy, but several species consume other foods, particularly algae and detritus. Only members of the subfamily Cymatiainae seem to be exclusively predators. In other subfamilies, the diet of different species and different sexes or populations of a single species may vary depending on the food available or is still unknown. We conclude, that a multi-method approach is needed to elucidate the feeding habits of aquatic insects and invertebrates in general.

Keywords: Heteroptera, Corixoidea, aquatic invertebrates, food webs, diet, predation, feeding habits

Received: October 5, 2016; Accepted: February 9, 2017; Published online: March 20, 2017

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