, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 517-533
Date: 13 Jul 2010

Emerging dragonfly diversity at small Rhode Island (U.S.A.) wetlands along an urbanization gradient

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Abstract

Natal habitat use by dragonflies was assessed on an urban to rural land-use gradient at a set of 21 wetlands, during two emergence seasons (2004, 2005). The wetlands were characterized for urbanization level by using the first factor from a principal components analysis combining chloride concentration in the wetland and percent forest in the surrounding buffer zone. Measurements of species diversity and its components (species richness and evenness) were analyzed and compared along the urbanization gradient, as were distributions of individual species. Dragonfly diversity, species richness, and evenness did not change along the urbanization gradient, so urban wetlands served as natal habitat for numerous dragonfly species. However, several individual species displayed strong relationships to the degree of urbanization, and most were more commonly found at urban sites and at sites with fish. In contrast, relatively rare species were generally found at the rural end of the gradient. These results suggest that urban wetlands can play important roles as dragonfly habitat and in dragonfly conservation efforts, but that conservation of rural wetlands is also important for some dragonfly species.