Pooled water beetle species lists from 1826 British national grid 10-km squares were analysed using multivariate ordination and classification methods. The relationships of pool groups to the climate, altitude and land cover variables were assessed using constrained and partial ordinations. Ordination of the species pool data indicated a major trend between squares in the north-west of Scotland and those in southern England, illustrating differences in acid and basic water standing water. Secondary variation was from acid standing water to fast-flowing streams and rivers. Classification generated nine species pool groups. These showed a distinct north-west to south-east trend but there was no obvious coastal or brackish water effect on distribution. The climatic and land cover variables were all significantly related to each other, and to north-south variation in grid square location, but the constrained ordination results indicated that that the most important influence on water beetle species pool distribution was mean summer temperature. Although the amount of variation explained by the environmental variables was low, spatial variation in the environmental predictors was almost as important as the environmental variables themselves in determining species pool composition. Mean annual temperature was also strongly correlated with species pool distribution with two land cover variables slightly less important. Altitude and precipitation had the least influence. The water beetle national recording scheme database appears to be of sufficiently high quality for environmental investigations at the British scale. There is considerable potential for the synthesis of invertebrate species distribution, land cover and climate change predictions in the assessment of environmental change. The results, together with previous work on other invertebrate species, indicate that changing summer temperatures may have a considerable influence on the distribution British invertebrate species.