The Heritage Program and Odonate Conservation in Massachusetts

Jennifer Loose

Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program



Of the 165+ species of Odonates in Massachusetts , 31 are considered rare and threatened, and are protected by the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.  The majority of Massachusetts Odonate rarities are coastal plain pond species, big river species, and bog species.  Our coastal plain ponds are home to several species of Enallagma that are not found much outside of the sandy coastal plain running from New Jersey to Massachusetts – a region that is rapidly being developed.  The Connecticut River is the exclusive home to several big river species, and of course, our bogs are home to the Williamsonia, W. lintneri being quite globally rare.  Massachusetts has the unique ability to protect the habitat of our rare species through its Endangered Species Act and Wetlands Protection Act and is a national leader in rare species protection.  No other states currently protect habitat under the provision of “take”, as only Massachusetts and the Federal government do.  The Heritage Program oversees the protection of our rare species through surveys to clarify the distribution of rare species, research on habitat requirements and general life-histories, and regulation of known rare species occurrences and habitats under the state Endangered Species Act and the Wetlands Protection Act.              



Biography: Jennifer Loose is an Invertebrate Zoologist with the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program where she works towards the conservation of the rare Odonata and other invertebrates.  Jennifer is coauthor, along with Blair Nikula and Matt Burne, of A Field Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of Massachusetts.  Jennifer’s interest in the world of insects was ignited as an undergraduate visiting the La Selva research station in Costa Rica - she was dazzled by the beetles (and startled by the giant cockroaches).  Upon return, Jennifer enrolled in Dave Wagner’s vibrant entomology course and promptly found her way to his lab and began working with Williamsonia lintneri and other Odes, as well as rearing a world of caterpillars.  Jennifer continued on, earning a M.S. in Entomology at the University of Maine , Orono.  There she studied native bees, wildflowers, and agricultural practices in the blueberry barrens and cranberry bogs of the Northeast – as well as aquatic entomology and ecology and beekeeping.  Jennifer has traveled through Latin America and Southeast Asia , where she has truly gained an appreciation for the tools and effectiveness of local conservation, as well as the diversity of life.   


Contact Info: Jennifer Loose, Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, 1 Rabbit Hill Road , Westborough , MA 01581 . Email: