Special Issue "Odonates in Human Environments"

A special issue of Insects (ISSN 2075-4450). This special issue belongs to the section "Insect Ecology, Diversity and Conservation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Wade B. Worthen
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Biology Department, Furman University, Greenville, SC 29613, USA
Interests: Odonata; community ecology; competition and biodiversity
Dr. Adolfo Cordero-Rivera
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Ecology and Animal Biology, ECOEVO Lab, University of Vigo, E.E. Forestal, Campus A Xunqueira, 36005 Pontevedra, Galiza, Spain
Interests: behavioral ecology; ethology; conservation biology; Odonata; aquatic insects; rivers; ponds; amphibians; freshwater turtles
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The anthropogenic transformation of natural habitats typically reduces biodiversity. However, some species thrive in human environments, facilitated by forest removal, expansion of agricultural grasslands, the construction of ponds and lakes, or increased habitat heterogeneity. Maintaining biodiversity requires that we identify species that profit and suffer from these changes and understand the consequences for the community and trophic dynamics. Odonates provide an excellent model system for studying these effects. Their complex life cycle is affected by changes in aquatic and terrestrial habitats, and they are important intermediate nodes both within and between aquatic and terrestrial food webs. In this Special Issue, we will examine how anthropogenic landscape modifications affect odonate abundance and diversity.

Dr. Wade B. Worthen
Dr. Adolfo Cordero-Rivera
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Odonata
  • anthropogenic effects
  • landscape
  • biodiversity

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Communication
EcoDragons: A Game for Environmental Education and Public Outreach
Insects 2021, 12(9), 776; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12090776 - 29 Aug 2021
Viewed by 593
Abstract
Environmental education is crucial to tackling the pressing ecological and societal issues on our planet. Although there are various ways to approach environmental education and raise public awareness, games are potentially an effective vehicle of knowledge and engagement because they vulgarize the scientific [...] Read more.
Environmental education is crucial to tackling the pressing ecological and societal issues on our planet. Although there are various ways to approach environmental education and raise public awareness, games are potentially an effective vehicle of knowledge and engagement because they vulgarize the scientific information in a universal ‘language’ and bring people together. Here, we designed a game, EcoDragons, that integrates principles of ecology, biological conservation, life history, and taxonomy. The protagonists of the game are dragonflies and damselflies. The aim of the game is to colonize habitats with different species and use ecological processes (e.g., predation, competition, and mutualism) and conservation measures (e.g., restoration and reintroduction) to face random environmental disturbances (e.g., climate warming, drought, pollution, and biological invasion). The version of the game presented in this paper was based on European species. The game includes 50 species (25 dragonflies and 25 damselflies). The winner of the game is the one who occupies more habitats, establishes and maintains the largest number of species, and solves more anthropogenic disturbances. EcoDragons has a global outreach potential to educate the public about ecology, conservation, and organismic life history, and will probably engage people in environmental advocacy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Odonates in Human Environments)
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Article
Effects of Landscape Patterns and Their Changes to Species Richness, Species Composition, and the Conservation Value of Odonates (Insecta)
Insects 2021, 12(6), 478; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12060478 - 21 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 554
Abstract
Understanding the impact of the changing proportion of land-use patterns on species diversity is a critical issue in conservation biology, and odonates are good bioindicators of these environmental changes. Some freshwater ecosystems that have been modified due to human activities can serve as [...] Read more.
Understanding the impact of the changing proportion of land-use patterns on species diversity is a critical issue in conservation biology, and odonates are good bioindicators of these environmental changes. Some freshwater ecosystems that have been modified due to human activities can serve as important secondary habitats for odonate assemblages; however, the majority of studies addressing the value of secondary habitats in industrial and urban areas for adult dragonfly diversity have been limited to the local scale, and the value of such habitats for gamma diversity is still unclear. The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between human transformations of land use/land cover and dragonfly diversity. We interpolated the information based on dragonfly occurrence per grid cell and land cover data, indicating naturalness and degradation in 677 grid cells in the Czech Republic. Species richness did not correspond to habitat naturalness, but the occurrence of endangered species was significantly positively correlated with increasing naturalness; thus, habitat degradation and/or the level of naturalness significantly affected species composition, while species richness remained unchanged. Threatened species that occur predominantly in natural areas and threatened species with a dominant occurrence in degraded squares were also separated, which indicated that the conservation of the latter should be prioritised. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Odonates in Human Environments)
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Article
Urban Areas Create Refugia for Odonates in a Semi-Arid Region
Insects 2021, 12(5), 431; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12050431 - 11 May 2021
Viewed by 793
Abstract
In western Texas, most wetlands are fed from precipitation runoff, making them sensitive to drought regimes, anthropogenic land-use activities in their surrounding watersheds, and the interactive effect between these two factors. We surveyed adult odonates in 133 wetlands (49 in grassland settings, 56 [...] Read more.
In western Texas, most wetlands are fed from precipitation runoff, making them sensitive to drought regimes, anthropogenic land-use activities in their surrounding watersheds, and the interactive effect between these two factors. We surveyed adult odonates in 133 wetlands (49 in grassland settings, 56 in cropland, and 28 in urban areas) in western Texas from 2003–2020; 33 species were recorded. Most species were widespread generalists, but urban wetlands had the highest species richness, as well as the most unique species of any of the three wetland types. Non-metric, multidimensional scaling ordination revealed that the odonate community in urban wetlands was distinctly different in composition than the odonates in non-urban wetlands. Urban wetlands were smaller in surface area than the other wetland types, but because they were fed from more consistently available urban runoff rather than seasonal precipitation, they had longer hydroperiods, particularly during a multi-year drought when wetlands in other land-cover contexts were dry. This anthropogenically enhanced water supply was associated with higher odonate richness despite presumably impaired water quality, indicating that consistent and prolonged presence of water in this semi-arid region was more important than the presence of native land cover within which the wetland existed. Compared to wetlands in the regional grassland landscape matrix, wetlands in agricultural and urban areas differed in hydroperiod, and presumably also in water quality; these effects translated to differences in the regional odonate assemblage by surrounding land-use type, with the highest richness at urban playas. Odonates in human environments may thus benefit through the creation of a more reliably available wetland habitat in an otherwise dry region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Odonates in Human Environments)
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Article
Remarkable Population Resilience in a North African Endemic Damselfly in the Face of Rapid Agricultural Transformation
Insects 2021, 12(4), 353; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12040353 - 15 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 589
Abstract
Agriculture can be pervasive in its effect on wild nature, affecting various types of natural habitats, including lotic ecosystems. Here, we assess the extent of agricultural expansion on lotic systems in Northern Africa (Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco) and document its overlap with the [...] Read more.
Agriculture can be pervasive in its effect on wild nature, affecting various types of natural habitats, including lotic ecosystems. Here, we assess the extent of agricultural expansion on lotic systems in Northern Africa (Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco) and document its overlap with the distribution of an endemic damselfly, Platycnemis subdilatata Selys, using species distribution modeling. We found that agricultural land cover increased by 321% in the region between 1992 and 2005, and, in particular, the main watercourses experienced an increase in agricultural land cover from 21.4% in 1992 to 78.1% in 2005, together with an increase in the intensity of 226% in agricultural practices. We used capture–mark–recapture (CMR) surveys in terrestrial habitats surrounding a stream bordered by grassland and cropland in northeastern Algeria to determine demographic parameters and population size, as well as cropland occupancy. CMR modeling showed that the recapture and survival probabilities had an average of 0.14 (95%CI: 0.14–0.17) and 0.86 (0.85–0.87), respectively. We estimated a relatively large population of P. subdilatata (~1750 individuals) in terrestrial habitats. The occupancy of terrestrial habitats by adults was spatially structured by age. Our data suggest that P. subdilatata has survived agricultural expansion and intensification better than other local odonate species, mainly because it can occupy transformed landscapes, such as croplands and grasslands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Odonates in Human Environments)
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Article
Downstream Changes in Odonate (Insecta: Odonata) Communities along a Suburban to Urban Gradient: Untangling Natural and Anthropogenic Effects
Insects 2021, 12(3), 201; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12030201 - 27 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 630
Abstract
The community structure of lotic odonates (Insecta: Odonata) changes downstream, but it is difficult to untangle natural and anthropogenic causes. We surveyed larvae and adults at 15 sites along the Reedy River in Greenville Co., SC, USA, from sites in forested suburban landscapes [...] Read more.
The community structure of lotic odonates (Insecta: Odonata) changes downstream, but it is difficult to untangle natural and anthropogenic causes. We surveyed larvae and adults at 15 sites along the Reedy River in Greenville Co., SC, USA, from sites in forested suburban landscapes through the urban core of the city of Greenville. We used principal component analyses and Akaike information criteria models to describe the relationships between larval and adult community descriptors (abundance, richness, and diversity) and habitat characteristics at several spatial scales, including water chemistry, sediment and detritus, aquatic and streamside vegetation, and the percent cover of landforms in the surrounding landscape. At all scales, larval abundance, richness, and diversity correlated with the amount of detritus. At a small scale, adult indices correlated with the amount of sunlight and streamside vegetation. Zygopteran community composition was nested at a large scale; richness and diversity did not correlate with changes in the landscape but increased downstream. Anisopteran composition was also nested, but richness correlated with the percent cover of field, wetland, and open water in the habitat and was unrelated to downstream site position. Landscape transformation affected anisopterans more than zygopterans by opening habitats that facilitate these generalist heliotherms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Odonates in Human Environments)
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Article
Darwin Returns to the Galapagos: Genetic and Morphological Analyses Confirm the Presence of Tramea darwini at the Archipelago (Odonata, Libellulidae)
Insects 2021, 12(1), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12010021 - 31 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 790
Abstract
The status of the Tramea species present in the Galapagos Islands (Odonata, Libellulidae) has been the subject of a long-standing debate among odonatologists. Here, we use molecular and morphological data to analyze a series of specimens from this genus collected in 2018 from [...] Read more.
The status of the Tramea species present in the Galapagos Islands (Odonata, Libellulidae) has been the subject of a long-standing debate among odonatologists. Here, we use molecular and morphological data to analyze a series of specimens from this genus collected in 2018 from the Islands of San Cristobal, Isabela, and Santa Cruz, with the aim of determining their relationship with Tramea calverti Muttkowski and with their currently considered senior synonym T. cophysa Hagen. We combined sequencing of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA with morphological examination of several specimens of Tramea, including representatives of continental T. cophysa and T. calverti. Our molecular analyses place the Tramea from Galapagos in the same clade as T. calverti, with T. cophysa as a closely related species. The morphological analyses found only one consistent difference between T. cophysa and T. calverti: the presence of an accessory lobe in the male vesica spermalis of T. cophysa that is absent in T. calverti and in the Tramea from Galapagos. In agreement with our genetic results, the overall morphological differences documented by us indicate that the Galapagos material examined is conspecific with T. calverti. In light of this, and following the principle of priority in taxonomic nomenclature, Tramea calverti Muttkowski, 1910 should hereafter be considered a junior synonym of Tramea darwini Kirby, 1889. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Odonates in Human Environments)
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Review

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Review
A Review of the Impacts and Opportunities for African Urban Dragonflies
Insects 2021, 12(3), 190; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12030190 - 24 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 604
Abstract
Urban settlements range from small villages in rural areas to large metropoles with densely packed infrastructures. Urbanization presents many challenges to the maintenance of freshwater quality and conservation of freshwater biota, especially in Africa. There are many opportunities as well, particularly by fostering [...] Read more.
Urban settlements range from small villages in rural areas to large metropoles with densely packed infrastructures. Urbanization presents many challenges to the maintenance of freshwater quality and conservation of freshwater biota, especially in Africa. There are many opportunities as well, particularly by fostering contributions from citizen scientists. We review the relationships between dragonflies and urbanization in southern Africa. Shifts in dragonfly assemblages indicate environmental change, as different species are variously sensitive to abiotic and biotic water and bank conditions. They are also conservation umbrellas for many other co-occurring species. Major threats to southern African dragonflies include increasing infrastructure densification, frequent droughts, habitat loss, pollution, and invasive alien vegetation. Mitigation measures include implementation of conservation corridors, maintenance of healthy permanent ponds, pollution reduction, and removal of invasive alien trees. Citizen science is now an important approach for supplementing and supporting professional scientific research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Odonates in Human Environments)
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