Some dragonflies thrive in a warmer climate • Earth.com
Germany has a range of suitable habitats which make it a hotspot for dragonflies and damselflies. Many of these species suffer from habitat loss and degradation, but not all of them, new research from the German Center for Integrative Research (iDIV).
While a growing number of studies have found evidence of long-term declines in dragonfly and damselfish populations across Europe, the new study suggests that some species thrive in a warmer climate.
Together with experts from FSU and UFZ, the iDIV team conducted a nationwide analysis of the occurrence and distribution of dragonflies and damselflies in Germany between 1980 and 2016.
The study involved over a million occurrence records for 77 species from different regional databases, most of which were collected by citizen scientists.
The researchers determined that populations of dragonflies and damselflies suffered both losses and gains. The greatest number of decreases has been observed in cold-adapted species that prefer stagnant water habitats such as peatlands and fens. Many of these species are already threatened with extinction.
“These species are suffering greatly from habitat loss and degradation. Here we still face serious conservation challenges, ”said study lead author Dr Diana Bowler.
Overall, the analysis suggests that cold-adapted species in stagnant water habitats are likely to be the most vulnerable to climate change and other environmental changes.
Overall, experts have found an increase in the occurrence of 45 percent of all species in heat-adapted species.
“Once rare species such as Crocothemis erythraea and Erythromma viridulum have become much more common in Germany,” said Dr Bowler. “These species prefer warmer temperatures and their increase in Germany is therefore most likely the result of long-term climate change.”
The largest population gains have been observed among running water species, representing the conservation success that can be achieved through better environmental management.
“The increase in these species reflects a recovery from the impacts of past water pollution and the almost complete destruction of natural floodplains,” said Klaus-Jürgen Conze.
In Germany, projects were launched in the 1990s to improve the quality of fresh water and restore rivers. In addition, the EU Water Framework Directive was adopted in 2000.
“Our study highlights the great value of these monitoring efforts in assessing changes in species occurrences,” said lead author of the study, Professor Aletta Bonn. “We have found signs of accelerating decline over the past decade, which underscores the need to support these companies’ efforts in the future.”
The study is published in the journal Diversity and distribution.
Through Chrissy sexton, Terre.com Editor-in-chief
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