Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 1027–1036 | Cite as

Local and regional factors influencing assemblages of dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) in California and Nevada

  • Joan E. Ball-Damerow
  • Leithen K. M’Gonigle
  • Vincent H. Resh


Studies of landscape effects on assemblages and distribution of insects are relatively uncommon, largely because of the lack of occurrence data that span broad spatial or temporal scales. Here, we provide a multi-species analysis using generalized linear mixed models to examine the effects of local and regional variables on richness and occurrence rates of Odonata (dragonfly and damselfly) species at 81 sites throughout central California and north-western Nevada, USA. These study sites were located across a range of ecoregions, including the Sierra Nevada Forests, California Mediterranean, Great Basin Shrub Steppe, and Northern Coastal California Forests. Dynamic regional variables in this study, degree-days and precipitation, influenced the richness of dragonflies, but not the less-mobile damselflies. In contrast, local habitat type influenced the richness of damselflies, but not dragonflies. Overall species occurrence was higher during site visits with higher degree-days, especially for highly mobile groups including dragonflies and migratory species. Dragonflies were also positively associated with total precipitation, but migratory species were not. Probability of presence across species was lower in highly urban sites, particularly for habitat specialists. Further, habitat specialists had lower rates of occurrence overall, suggesting that widespread generalist species may increasingly dominate Odonata assemblages. Our study indicates that Odonata in this semi-arid region are responsive to a combination of local and regional environmental variables.


Urbanization Climate Species richness Freshwater Generalized linear mixed model Western United States Biological traits 



We first thank the anonymous reviewers for their careful critique of this manuscript. This research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DBI 0956389, and the Margaret C. Walker Fund for teaching and research in systematic Entomology. LKM was supported by an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship. We thank Rosser Garrison for his review of an early version of this manuscript, and thank Dennis Paulson and Timothy Manolis for their assistance and advice on portions of the research. We also thank Norm Penny for assistance with C.H. Kennedy’s original specimens at the California Academy of Sciences, and Mark O’Brien for his assistance with the majority of C.H. Kennedy’s specimens and field notes at the Museum of Zoology at the University of Michigan. Finally, we greatly appreciate property owners who allowed us to access their sites, and everyone who assisted with field surveys.


  1. Alcock J (1990) Oviposition resources, territoriality and male reproductive tactics in the dragonfly Paltothemis-lineatipes (Odonata, Libellulidae). Behaviour 113:251–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angert AL, Crozier LG, Rissler LJ, Gilman SE, Tewksbury JJ, Chunco AJ (2011) Do species’ traits predict recent shifts at expanding range edges? Ecol Lett 14(7):677–689PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ball JE, Bêche LA, Mendez PK, Resh VH (2013) Biodiversity in Mediterranean-climate streams of California. Hydrobiologia 719(1):187–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ball-Damerow JE, M’Gonigle LK, Resh VH (2014) Biodiversity and conservation status of freshwater organisms in California and northwestern Nevada. Dissertation, University of California at BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  5. Bartomeus I, Park MG, Gibbs J, Danforth BN, Lakso AN, Winfree R (2013) Biodiversity ensures plant-pollinator phenological synchrony against climate change. Ecol Lett 16(11):1331–1338PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bates D, Maechler M, Bolker B, Walker S (2013) lme4: linear mixed-effects models using Eigen and S4. R package version 3.0.1.
  7. Bêche LA, McElravy EP, Resh VH (2006) Long-term seasonal variation in the biological traits of benthic-macroinvertebrates in two Mediterranean-climate streams in California, USA. Freshw Biol 51(1):56–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bêche LA, Connors PG, Resh VH, Merenlender AM (2009) Resilience of fishes and invertebrates to prolonged drought in two California streams. Ecography 32(5):778–788CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Boulton AJ (2003) Parallels and contrasts in the effects of drought on stream macroinvertebrate assemblages. Freshw Biol 48(7):1173–1185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bried JT, Mazzacano CA (2010) National review of state wildlife action plans for Odonata species of greatest conservation need. Insect Conserv Divers 3(2):61–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Buchwald R (1992) Vegetation and dragonfly fauna—characteristics and examples of biocenological field studies. Vegetatio 101(2):99–107Google Scholar
  12. Clark TE, Samways MJ (1996) Dragonflies (Odonata) as indicators of biotope quality in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. J Appl Ecol 33(5):1001–1012CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clausnitzer V (2003) Dragonfly communities in coastal habitats of Kenya: indication of biotope quality and the need of conservation measures. Biodivers Conserv 12(2):333–356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clausnitzer V, Kalkman VJ, Ram M, Collen B, Baillie JEM, Bedjanic M, Darwall WRT, Dijkstra KDB, Dow R, Hawking J, Karube H, Malikova E, Paulson D, Schutte K, Suhling F, Villanueva RJ, von Ellenrieder N, Wilson K (2009) Odonata enter the biodiversity crisis debate: the first global assessment of an insect group. Biol Conserv 142(8):1864–1869CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Clausnitzer V, Dijkstra KDB, Koch R, Boudot JP, Darwall WRT, Kipping J, Samraoui B, Samways MJ, Simaika JP, Suhling F (2012) Focus on African freshwaters: hotspots of dragonfly diversity and conservation concern. Front Ecol Environ 10(3):129–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cook ER, Woodhouse CA, Eakin CM, Meko DM, Stahle DW (2004) Long-term aridity changes in the western United States. Science 306(5698):1015–1018PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Corbet PS (2004) Dragonflies: behavior and ecology of Odonata, Revised edn. Harley Books, ColchesterGoogle Scholar
  18. Corkum LD (1992) Spatial distributional patterns of macroinvertebrates along rivers within and among biomes. Hydrobiologia 239(2):101–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. ESRI (2012) ArcGIS desktop: release 10.1. Environmental Systems Research Institute, RedlandsGoogle Scholar
  20. Finch JM, Samways MJ, Hill TR, Piper SE, Taylor S (2006) Application of predictive distribution modelling to invertebrates: Odonata in South Africa. Biodivers Conserv 15(13):4239–4251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Forister ML, McCall AC, Sanders NJ, Fordyce JA, Thorne JH, O’Brien J, Waetjen DP, Shapiro AM (2010) Compounded effects of climate change and habitat alteration shift patterns of butterfly diversity. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107(5):2088–2092PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fry J, Xian G, Jin S, Dewitz J, Homer C, Yang L, Barnes C, Herold N, Wickham J (2011) Completion of the 2006 national land cover database for the conterminous United States. PE&RS 77(9):858–864Google Scholar
  23. Gesch DB (2007) The national elevation dataset. In: Maune D (ed) Digital elevation model technologies and applications: the DEM users manual, 2nd edn. American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Bethesda, pp 99–118Google Scholar
  24. Gesch DB, Oimoen M, Greenlee S, Nelson C, Steuck M, Tyler D (2002) The national elevation dataset. Photogramm Eng Remote Sensing 68(1):5–11Google Scholar
  25. Goertzen D, Suhling F (2013) Promoting dragonfly diversity in cities: major determinants and implications for urban pond design. J Insect Conserv 17:399–409Google Scholar
  26. Guralnick R, Constable H (2010) VertNet: creating a data-sharing community. Bioscience 60(4):258–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hassall C (2012) Predicting the distributions of under-recorded Odonata using species distribution models. Insect Conserv Divers 5(3):192–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hassall C, Thompson DJ (2008) The effects of environmental warming on Odonata: a review. Int J Odonatol 11(2):131–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hassall C, Thompson DJ, French GC, Harvey IF (2007) Historical changes in the phenology of British Odonata are related to climate. Glob Change Biol 13(5):933–941CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Helms BS, Schoonover JE, Feminella JW (2009) Seasonal variability of landuse impacts on macroinvertebrate assemblages in streams of western Georgia, USA. J N Am Benthol Soc 28(4):991–1006CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hickling R, Roy DB, Hill JK, Thomas CD (2005) A northward shift of range margins in British Odonata. Glob Change Biol 11(3):502–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hickling R, Roy DB, Hill JK, Fox R, Thomas CD (2006) The distributions of a wide range of taxonomic groups are expanding polewards. Glob Change Biol 12(3):450–455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kearns CA, Oliveras DM (2009) Environmental factors affecting bee diversity in urban and remote grassland plots in Boulder, Colorado. J Insect Conserv 13(6):655–665CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kennedy CH (1917) Notes on the life history and ecology of the dragonflies (Odonata) of central California and Nevada. Proc US Natl Mus 52:483–635CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kery M, Royle JA (2008) Hierarchical Bayes estimation of species richness and occupancy in spatially replicated surveys. J Appl Ecol 45(2):589–598CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Korkeamaki E, Suhonen J (2002) Distribution and habitat specialization of species affect local extinction in dragonfly Odonata populations. Ecography 25(4):459–465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. MacKenzie DI, Nichols JD, Hines JE, Knutson MG, Franklin AB (2003) Estimating site occupancy, colonization, and local extinction when a species is detected imperfectly. Ecology 84(8):2200–2207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Manolis T (2003) Dragonflies and damselflies of California. California natural history guides. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  39. May ML (2013) A critical overview of progress in studies of migration of dragonflies (Odonata: Anisoptera), with emphasis on North America. J Insect Conserv 17(1):1–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. McKinney ML (2002) Urbanization, biodiversity, and conservation. Bioscience 52(10):883–890CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. McKinney ML (2006) Urbanization as a major cause of biotic homogenization. Biol Conserv 127(3):247–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. McKinney ML (2008) Effects of urbanization on species richness: a review of plants and animals. Urban Ecosyst 11(2):161–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Moore NW (1991) The development of dragonfly communities and the consequences of territorial behavior: a 27 year study on small ponds at Woodwalton Fen, Cambridgeshire, England, UK. Odonatologica 20(2):203–232Google Scholar
  44. NOAA (2012) Climate data online: global historical climate network—daily observational data. National Climatic Data Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Accessed 24 Oct 2013
  45. Olson DM, Dinerstein E, Wikramanayake ED, Burgess ND, Powell GVN, Underwood EC, D’Amico JA, Itoua I, Strand HE, Morrison JC, Loucks JC, Allnutt TF, Ricketts TH, Kura Y, Lamoreux JF, Wettengel WW, Hedao P, Kassem KR (2001) Terrestrial ecoregions of the world: a new map of life on Earth. Bioscience 51:933–938.
  46. Paul MJ, Meyer JL (2001) Streams in the urban landscape. In: Marzluff JM, Shulenberger E, Endlicher W et al (eds) Urban ecology: an international perspective on the interaction between humans and nature. Springer, LLC, New York, pp 207–231Google Scholar
  47. Pöyry J, Luoto M, Heikkinen RK, Kuussaari M, Saarinen K (2009) Species traits explain recent range shifts of Finnish butterflies. Glob Change Biol 15(3):732–743CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pyle R, Bentzien M, Opler P (1981) Insect conservation. Annu Rev Entomol 26:233–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. R Development Core Team (2014) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.
  50. Rahel FJ (2002) Homogenization of freshwater faunas. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 33:291–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Remsburg AJ, Turner MG (2009) Aquatic and terrestrial drivers of dragonfly (Odonata) assemblages within and among north-temperate lakes. J N Am Benthol Soc 28(1):44–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Ricciardi A, Rasmussen JB (1999) Extinction rates of North American freshwater fauna. Conserv Biol 13(5):1220–1222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sahlen G, Ekestubbe K (2001) Identification of dragonflies (Odonata) as indicators of general species richness in boreal forest lakes. Biodivers Conserv 10(5):673–690CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sala OE, Chapin FS, Armesto JJ, Berlow E, Bloomfield J, Dirzo R, Huber-Sanwald E, Huenneke LF, Jackson RB, Kinzig A, Leemans R, Lodge DM, Mooney HA, Oesterheld M, Poff NL, Sykes MT, Walker BH, Walker M, Wall DH (2000) Biodiversity—global biodiversity scenarios for the year 2100. Science 287(5459):1770–1774PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Samways MJ, Steytler NS (1996) Dragonfly (Odonata) distribution patterns in urban and forest landscapes, and recommendations for riparian management. Biol Conserv 78(3):279–288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Schindler M, Fesl C, Chovanec A (2003) Dragonfly associations (Insecta: Odonata) in relation to habitat variables: a multivariate approach. Hydrobiologia 497(1–3):169–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Schuh RT, Hewson-Smith S, Ascher JS (2010) Specimen databases: a case study in entomology using web-based software. Am Entomol 56(4):206–216Google Scholar
  58. Silva DD, De Marco P, Resende DC (2010) Adult odonate abundance and community assemblage measures as indicators of stream ecological integrity: a case study. Ecol Indic 10(3):744–752CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Smith J, Samways MJ, Taylor S (2007) Assessing riparian quality using two complementary sets of bioindicators. Biodivers Conserv 16(9):2695–2713CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Steytler NS, Samways MJ (1995) Biotope selection by adult male dragonflies (Odonata) at an artificial lake created for insect conservation in South-Africa. Biol Conserv 72(3):381–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Strayer DL (2006) Challenges for freshwater invertebrate conservation. J N Am Benthol Soc 25(2):271–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Suhling F, Sahlen G, Martens A, Marais E, Schutte C (2006) Dragonfly assemblages in arid tropical environments: a case study from Western Namibia. Biodivers Conserv 15(1):311–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Thomas JA, Telfer MG, Roy DB, Preston CD, Greenwood JJD, Asher J, Fox R, Clarke RT, Lawton JH (2004) Comparative losses of British butterflies, birds, and plants and the global extinction crisis. Science 303(5665):1879–1881PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. van Strien AJ, Termaat T, Groenendijk D, Mensing V, Kery M (2010) Site-occupancy models may offer new opportunities for dragonfly monitoring based on daily species lists. Basic Appl Ecol 11(6):495–503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. van Strien AJ, Termaat T, Kalkman V, Prins M, De Knijf G, Gourmand AL, Houard X, Nelson B, Plate C, Prentice S, Regan E, Smallshire D, Vanappelghem C, Vanreusel W (2013) Occupancy modelling as a new approach to assess supranational trends using opportunistic data: a pilot study for the damselfly Calopteryx splendens. Biodivers Conserv 22(3):673–686CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joan E. Ball-Damerow
    • 1
  • Leithen K. M’Gonigle
    • 1
  • Vincent H. Resh
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science, Policy and ManagementUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations