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European Red List of Dragonflies

European Red List of Dragonflies

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Published by Uğur Özkan

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Published by: Uğur Özkan on Dec 21, 2011
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Dragonfies are well-known insects, and many people
appreciate their striking colours and equilibristic fight.
Teir larvae live in running and standing freshwater
environments. Some species are tolerant of brackish
and salty waters. Many species have small ranges, and
are specifc to certain habitats such as alpine mountain
bogs or desert wadis. In the temperate regions of the
world, dragonfies are frequently used as indicators
of environmental health. Teir sensitivity to habitat
quality (e.g. forest cover, water chemistry, rivers and
bank structure), their amphibious life cycle, and the
relative ease of their identifcation make dragonfies well
suited for evaluating environmental changes both in the
long term (biogeography, climatology) and in the short
term (biology conservation, water pollution, structural
alteration of running and standing waters). Dragonfy
identifcation keys are available in most countries, and a
feld guide covering almost all European dragonfy species
was recently published (Dijkstra & Lewington 2006).
Tis makes it possible for volunteers to conduct mapping
schemes, which produce distributional data that may be
used in management plans.

Dragonfies are recognized by their long and slender
abdomen, their large globular eyes, which often make
up a large portion of the head, their short antennae and
their long wings. Tey are divided into two suborders,
namely Zygoptera or damselfies, and Anisoptera or true
dragonfies. In this report the word ‘dragonfies’ is used
for both suborders.

Dragonfy larvae prey on all kinds of small animals up to
the size of tadpoles and small fsh. Tey take from a few
weeks to several years to develop. Emergence takes place
above the water on plants or on the shore, after which
most species leave the water edge to mature. Te males
return to the water to search for females or to establish
territories, whereas the females often return only to mate
and to lay their eggs.

With about 5,680 species, the dragonfies constitute
a relatively small insects order (Kalkman et al. 2008),
and most species are found in the tropics. A recent
study showed that in a global assessment about 10% of
the world’s dragonfies would probably be regarded as
Treatened (CR, EN or VU) and 35% as Data Defcient
(Clausnitzer et al. 2009). A total of 138 dragonfy species
are present in Europe (Table 1), 48 of which belong to
the damselfies and 90 to the ‘true’ dragonfies. Five of

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