The beetle is found all over Europe, and was once widespread but local in the UK. Today, however, it is only found in Sussex, Cumbria and the Scottish Highlands. There is also a recent record from Upper Lough Erne in Northern Ireland of a beetle collected in 1992.
The obvious threats to this species are the loss of its wet habitat and disturbance of the marginal vegetation. However, some of its water bodies may have disappeared in the past and the enrichment of lakes by agricultural run-off is also a contributory factor.
Donacia aquatica is listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP), and included in English Nature's Species Recovery Programme. In at least three of the sites where it occurs, this beetle's habitat is safeguarded, as two are nature reserves and the Northern Irish site is an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI).
It may prove possible to re-introduce the beetle to sites in its former range if this proves practical. More information about the species' ecology and true status is also required. English Nature is supporting a PhD studentship under Dr Allan Stewart at Sussex University, which is due to complete in 2004.
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