Systematics, Natural History, and Evolution of the Saw-Lipped Rove Beetles (Euaesthetinae): Progress and Prospects for Future Research

  • Dave J. ClarkeEmail author


The rove beetle subfamily Euaesthetinae is reviewed and information on the systematics, ecology, and evolution presented. Key morphological features of adults and larvae are discussed, and the current state of morphology-based phylogenetics and paleontological research is reviewed. Natural history information is compiled for most genera, and general ecological trends are highlighted. Euaesthetinae are probably monophyletic but with a suprageneric taxonomic structure likely poorly reflected by the current classification. They are nearly globally distributed in most habitats, and collection data suggests that their ecological diversity is not yet fully known or confirmed. The southern hemisphere and high-elevation faunas globally comprise mostly flightless species restricted to ground litter of diverse habitats. A division into groups extending from the general ground litter into either soil (endogenous) or aboveground habitats (mediated by high-moisture microhabitats, typically dense bryophyte growths) is suggested. Although Euaesthetinae are generally found in mesic habitats, a group of seemingly “periaquatic” taxa are primarily found in Holarctic riparian and wetland sites. Probable “surface runners” and arboreal (foliage-dwelling) species form two other (overlapping) ecological groupings, and the occurrence of some species in vertebrate and ant nests requires further investigation. Biological inferences are drawn from several different morphological features of the group suggesting diverse life histories for these tiny beetles. Updated fossil information is provided, and this indicates needed taxonomic changes and suggests a greater extinct taxonomic diversity than previously known. The fossil record and ecology of the group suggest that euaesthetine lineages are resistant to extinction over geological time making these beetles well-suited to historical biogeographic studies.



Funding for this work was provided by the US National Science Foundation, PEET Grant #DEB-0118749 (to Margaret Thayer and Al Newton); The University of Illinois, at Chicago; a Lester Armour Graduate Fellowship (Field Museum of Natural History); an Ernst Mayr Travel Award in Animal Systematics (Harvard University/Museum of Comparative Zoology); a Grant-in-Aid of Research (Sigm Xi); a Chicago Consular Corps Scholarship (University of Illinois, at Chicago); and a 21st Anniversary Research Fund Grant (Entomological Society of New Zealand). I thank the editors for inviting me to contribute this chapter. Volker Puthz, John Nunn, Chenyang Cai and Diying Huang, Dany Azar, and all of the curators and collection managers of institutions from which I have sourced materials for this contribution are gratefully acknowledged. Yvonne Matos and Richard Bloomfield assisted with specimen databasing. I thank Al Newton and Margaret Thayer, especially, for access to literature and unpublished taxonomic catalogs and databases used in this work; Shuhei Yamamoto for permission to use the Baltic amber fossil Octavius photo; Mark Florence (USNM) for supplying images of the possible Edaphus fossil; and Volker Puthz and the editors for critically reading the manuscript. I thank Director Omar Skalli and Lab Coordinator Lauren Thompson (Integrated Microscopy Center, University of Memphis) for their assistance with fluorescent microscopy and Betty Strack (Field Museum of Natural History) for assistance with scanning electron microscopy. Parts of this chapter are based on my doctoral dissertation, earlier drafts of which were generously read by Margaret Thayer and Lawrence Heaney (Field Museum of Natural History) and Roberta Mason-Gamer, Mary Ashley, and Roy Plotnick (University of Illinois, at Chicago). I also acknowledge funding from NSF to Duane McKenna (DEB1355169) and thank Seunggwan Shin, Stephanie Haddad, and Cristian Beza-Beza (University of Memphis) for useful discussion that improved earlier draft versions of parts of this manuscript.


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© Crown 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of MemphisMemphisUSA

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