Rove beetle (Meotica anglica)
Classified as Nationally Scarce in Great Britain and endemic (2).
Meotica anglica is a tiny reddish brown rove beetle. As the specific part of the scientific name anglica suggests, it is endemic to Britain (it is found no where else in the world) (2). The family of rove beetles (Staphylinidae) are characterised by their very short wing cases, known as elytra. The hindwings are folded beneath the elytra, and the elongated abdomen is exposed (3).
This species appears to have undergone a decline in numbers. Recent records are from southern Scotland, three areas in England, and the banks of three rivers in Wales (2).
This tiny beetle is found in gravel and sand by the margins of rivers (2).
Very little is known of the biology of this beetle. It is thought to be a predatory species, and is largely subterranean, very rarely being seen on the surface (2).
Like other river shingle beetles, the habitat of this species is likely to be damaged by a range of factors, including river straightening and dredging, control of the flow rate caused by damming or flood defence schemes, trampling by livestock, and the spread of the invasive plant Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera), which spreads very rapidly and aggressively competes with native species (2).
A number of beetles sharing this river shingle habitat have been highlighted as priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP). A Group Action Plan has been produced to coordinate efforts to conserve these beetles. The Environment Agency, English Nature and the Countryside Council for Wales have joint-funded studies aiming to improve understanding of these species, in order to better guide their conservation (2).
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- Abdomen: in arthropods (crustaceans, insects and arachnids) the abdomen is the hind region of the body, which is usually segmented to a degree (but not visibly in most spiders). In crustacea (e.g. crabs) some of the limbs attach to the abdomen; in insects the limbs are attached to the thorax (the part of the body nearest to the head) and not the abdomen. In vertebrates the abdomen is the part of the body that contains the internal organs (except the heart and lungs).
- Elytra: in beetles and earwigs, the hard fore wings. They are held aloft when the insect flies, and are often coloured or patterned.
- Endemic: a species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.