Freshwater Animal Diversity Assessment


, Volume 595, Issue 1, pp 351-363

First online:

Global diversity of dragonflies (Odonata) in freshwater

  • Vincent J. KalkmanAffiliated withNational Museum of Natural History Naturalis Email author 
  • , Viola ClausnitzerAffiliated with
  • , Klaas-Douwe B. DijkstraAffiliated withNational Museum of Natural History Naturalis
  • , Albert G. OrrAffiliated withCRC-TREM, AES, ENS, Griffith University
  • , Dennis R. PaulsonAffiliated withSlater Museum of Natural History, University of Puget Sound
  • , Jan van TolAffiliated withNational Museum of Natural History Naturalis

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Larvae of almost all of the 5,680 species of the insect order Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) are dependent on freshwater habitats. Both larvae and adults are predators. The order is relatively well studied, and the actual number of species may be close to 7,000. Many species have small distributional ranges, and are habitat specialists, including inhabitants of alpine mountain bogs, seepage areas in tropical rain forests, and waterfalls. They are often successfully used as indicators for environmental health and conservation management. The highest diversity is found in flowing waters in rain forests of the tropics, the Oriental and Neotropical regions being the most speciose. This paper discusses diversity, summarises the biogeography of dragonflies in the different biogeographical regions and gives the total number of species and genera per family per biogeographical region. Examples are given of areas of particular diversity, in terms of areas of endemism, presence of ancient lineages or remarkable recent radiations but no well-based review of areas with high endemism of dragonflies is available so far. The conservation status of dragonflies is briefly discussed. Species confined to small remnants of forest in the tropics are most under threat of extinction by human activities.


Odonata Dragonflies Diversity Endemicity Biogeography Conservation