Telemetry reveals the habitat selected by immature dragonflies: implications for conservation of the threatened dragonfly Leucorrhinia caudalis (Odonata: Anisoptera)

  • Aurélia LeNaour
  • Renaud Baeta
  • Eric Sansault
  • Mathieu Deville
  • Sylvain PincebourdeEmail author


Determining how species use different habitats during critical phases of their development is one of the crucial challenges that conservation biology meets. However, habitat requirements remain unknown for most species, in particular for the rarest and most threatened which by definition are difficult to study. Here, we used animal-borne telemetry to identify the habitat of the sexually immature adults in the threatened dragonfly Leucorrhinia caudalis. We used an harmonic radar with customized tags fixed on the back of the abdomen of flying immature dragonflies to monitor their position within an area composed of various types of habitats including open areas, forest and water bodies. From 62 tagged individuals, we obtained 23 detections, all within a quite restricted area around the pond of emergence. About 75% of the detections happened in the forest canopy and the individuals were likely positioned at the top of the trees. The relatively low detection rate was probably due to high predation within the study area during the maturation phase in this dragonfly but long-range dispersal cannot be excluded. The use of forest canopy as a maturation habitat is an important knowledge for planning conservation strategies in this endangered species, especially for populations living in areas without any protection status. Although technological constraints are still limiting its efficiency, animal-borne telemetry appears to be useful to determine precisely habitat selection by rare species.


Harmonic radar Displacements Dragonflies Spatial ecology Maturation Endangered species 



We thank the Tours City and the Office National des Forêts for allowing access both to the Tours-Preuilly forest and to the forest house of La Rolle. We also thank Thomas Cahon for sharing experience on the development of the tags and Emilie Deschamps for her help during the field study. This study was part of several projects: it was funded by the Foundation LISEA Biodiversité (Od’SPOT project), the Agence de l’Eau Loire-Bretagne, the Conseil Départemental d’Indre-et-Loire, the DREAL Centre-Val de Loire and the Région Centre Val de Loire (project PROTECTODO). All legal authorizations to manipulate the protected species L. caudalis were obtained.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Research involving animal participants

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. This research heavily involved contact with wild animals (dragonflies), and every effort was made to uphold welfare standards to reduce the likelihood of bodily harm or decreased survival because of the telemetry process. This included gentle capture, handling and release methods in suitable locations and conditions, and a method of marking the dragonflies’ wings that was considered to have little effect on survival.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut de Recherche sur la Biologie de l’Insecte (IRBI), UMR 7261 CNRSUniversité de ToursToursFrance
  2. 2.Association Naturaliste d’Étude et de Protection des Écosystèmes CAUDALISLa RicheFrance

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