Odonate Study in Massachusetts : The New age

Blair Nikula



Odonate study in Massachusetts dates back over a century and a half, providing one of the most extensive historical records anywhere in North America . However, until recently, this work was done by a small handful of individuals, most working alone at various times through the 20th Century. A dramatic change occurred following the publication of Ginger Carpenter’s Dragonflies and Damselflies of Cape Cod in 1991. This watershed guide, only the second odonate field guide to be published in North America, resulted in a tremendous increase of interest in these fascinating insects, and the number of odonatists active in the state has since increased exponentially since. This welcome development has greatly accelerated the data gathered on the distribution and abundance of the state’s 165+ odonate species, resulting in six new species being added to the state list, along with scores of new county records. Additionally, this “new age” of odonatology has spawned an odonate newsletter, a state field guide, a beginner’s guide, an introductory video, and most recently a DVD, all offspring of Carpenter’s seminal work. Yet, despite this all, we have barely scratched the surface in our understanding of the state’s odonate fauna. In this talk I review what we have learned over the past decade, point out how little we yet know, and take a brief peak into the exciting times ahead.


Biography: Blair Nikula, a life-long birder, has been studying and photographing dragonflies and damselflies for about 15 years. He is an editor of Ode News, a newsletter about the odonates of southern New England , and maintains a related web site (www.odenews.net). He is also a co-author of the Stokes’ Beginner’s Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies as well as A Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Massachusetts. He currently serves as an associate member of the Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program Advisory Committee.


Contact Info: Blair Nikula, 2 Gilbert Lane , Harwich Port , MA 02646 . Email: odenews@odenews.net