Changes in occurrence, richness, and biological traits of dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) in California and Nevada over the past century

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Abstract

Increases in water demand, urbanization, and severity of drought threaten freshwater ecosystems of the arid western United States. Historical assessments of change in assemblages over time can help determine the effects of these stressors but, to date, are rare. In the present study, we resurveyed 45 sites originally sampled in 1914–1915 for Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) adults throughout central California and northwestern Nevada, USA. We examined changes in species occurrence rates, taxonomic richness, and biological trait composition in relation to climate changes and human population increases. While species richness at individual sites did not change significantly, we found that odonate assemblages have become more similar across sites. Homogenization is a result of the expansion of highly mobile habitat generalists, and the decline of both habitat specialists and species with an overwintering diapause stage. Using a multi-species mixed-effects model, we found that overall occurrences of Odonata increased with higher minimum temperatures. Habitat specialists and species with a diapause stage, however, occurred less often in warmer regions and more often in areas with higher precipitation. Habitat specialists occurred less often in highly populated sites. Life history traits of Odonata, such as dispersal ability, habitat specialization, and diapause, are useful predictors of species-specific responses to urbanization and climate change in this region.

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Acknowledgments

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 a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellowship. We thank Dennis Paulson, Rosser Garrison, Timothy Manolis, and Giovanni Rapacciuolo for their advice on aspects of the work. We also thank Norm Penny and Mark O’Brien for their assistance with C. H. Kennedy’s original Odonata specimens at the California Academy of Sciences and the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, respectively.

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Correspondence to Joan E. Ball-Damerow.

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Communicated by B.D. Hoffmann.

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Ball-Damerow, J.E., M’Gonigle, L.K. & Resh, V.H. Changes in occurrence, richness, and biological traits of dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) in California and Nevada over the past century. Biodivers Conserv 23, 2107–2126 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-014-0707-5

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Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Urbanization
  • Long-term change
  • Life-history traits
  • Resurvey
  • Overwintering diapause
  • Migrant species
  • Habitat specialization