River shingle ground beetle (Lionychus quadrillum)

Lionychus quadrillum specimen
Loading more images and videos...

River shingle ground beetle fact file

River shingle ground beetle description

GenusLionychus (1)

Lionychus quadrillum is a rare ground beetle that is easily recognised by the yellow spots on the black wing cases or ‘elytra’ (2). The two spots closer to the head are always present, but the lower spots are sometimes completely absent or joined to the anterior spots (2).

Adult length: 3 - 4 mm (2)

River shingle ground beetle biology

Very little is known of the ecology of this rare beetle.


River shingle ground beetle range

Old records for this species are from the east, south-east, south and south-west coasts of England, and it was widely thought of as a coastal species in Britain. Many of these populations have been lost, however, and current records are known only from a handful of coastal sites in Suffolk and north Essex as well as in the south-west. More recently a number of inland populations have been discovered on four Welsh rivers (3). This beetle is widespread in continental Europe (4).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Atlas.

River shingle ground beetle habitat

River shingle beetles inhabit exposed riverine sediments, particularly shingles, hence the name (3).


River shingle ground beetle status

Classified as Rare in Great Britain (3).


River shingle ground beetle threats

Many coastal populations of this species appear to have been destroyed largely as a result of widespread habitat loss caused by building of coastal defences and other developments. River straightening or dredging is also likely to affect populations, as is the control of water levels by damming or flood defence. The spread of invasive plants such as Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) may also cause problems (3).


River shingle ground beetle conservation

A number of beetles sharing this river shingle habitat have been highlighted as priorities under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP). A Group Action Plan has been produced to coordinate efforts to conserve these species; this plan aims to maintain current populations. 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 (3).

The UK Biodiversity Action Plan for this species is available at UK BAP.
There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Atlas.


Information authenticated by Dr Martin Luff of the School of Biology, University of Newcastle, with the support of the British Ecological Society:



  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (September 2003): http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn
  2. Harde, K. W. (2000) A field guide in colour to beetles. Silverdale Books, Leicester.
  3. UK BAP Group Action Plan for river shingle beetles (September 2003): http://www.ukbap.org.uk
  4. Environment Agency (2000) Focus on Biodiversity. Environment Agency, Bristol.

Image credit

Lionychus quadrillum specimen  
Lionychus quadrillum specimen

© The Natural History Museum, London

The Natural History Museum Picture Library
Cromwell Road
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 207 942 5323
Fax: +44 (0) 207 942 5443


Link to this photo

Arkive species - River shingle ground beetle (Lionychus quadrillum) Embed this Arkive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to Arkive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about



MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite Arkive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!


Back To Top