Odonata Atlas: Preliminary Results of a
Six-Year Inventory of Dragonflies and Damselflies
Virginia A. Brown
Natural History Survey
The Rhode Island Odonata Atlas is a statewide, volunteer
based inventory of dragonflies and damselflies, which began in 1998, and has
just completed its 6th and final field season. Fifty-five (55)
volunteers have participated in the project, donating thousands of hours to
fieldwork, data entry and analysis, collection management, and publicity. The
current species list for the state stands at 135, twenty-two (22) of which were
added during the Atlas period. Included in the additions to the list are a few
species of local and regional conservation interest, such as the Coppery Emerald
(Somatochlora georgiana) and the
Blackwater Bluet (Enallagma weewa).
Faunal lists for various townships range from a low of 12 species to a high of
107 species. Burrillville,
support the highest odonate diversity.
rank among the most diverse counties in the country, with 125 and 126 species
respectively. Several ponds and rivers contain more than half of the species
reported for the state, and local diversity “hot spots” tend to be where
large areas of protected and/or undeveloped landscapes exist. An analysis of the
assemblage of 40 river and stream species, with further examination of 8
pollution sensitive species, may be useful in assessing the health of
is a particularly productive place to conduct statewide inventories of insects
because of its small size and large areas of accessible open space.
Additionally, though one might suspect a limited fauna in a state of this size,
has a great diversity of habitat types and an abundance of wetlands, which
support a correspondingly high diversity of odonate species.
Virginia Brown is Coordinator of the Rhode Island Natural History Survey (RINHS)
Inventory, Monitoring and Stewardship Program. She has a B.S. Wildlife Biology
, and worked as Curator of Research and Collections/Naturalist at the Cape Cod
Museum of Natural History from 1981 to 1990 and as Director of Science and
Stewardship for The Nature Conservancy in
from 1990 to 2002.
has 24 years experience studying Odonata. Her work includes research on rare
species, population dynamics, behavior, monitoring techniques, habitat, etc. She
authored Dragonflies and Damselflies of Cape Cod, a regional guide to the
Odonata of southeastern
, published in 1991. In 1998, she began the Rhode Island Odonata Atlas project,
a statewide inventory of dragonflies and damselflies.
Virginia Brown, Rhode Island Natural History Survey, Room 11, Coastal
Institute-Kingston, 1 Greenhouse Road, URI, Kingston, Rhode Island 02881.