The status of dragonflies and damselflies in New York: past, present, and future



The dragonflies and damselflies of New York have been studied with varying degrees of intensity since the mid 1880s. The first comprehensive state list was a New York Entomological Society publication by Calvert in 1895. Needham published a comprehensive state list in 1928. This list included 150 species now recognized as valid. Needham’s list remained the most current account of the state’s odonate fauna until Nick Donnelly’s landmark initial volume of the Bulletin of American Odonatology in 1992. Donnelly’s list included 177 species. About the time of Donnelly’s 1992 publication, the number of amateur naturalists in New York with an interest in odonates was beginning to grow, and with the development of the Donnelly list and the assistance of Ken Soltesz, the New York Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP) began tracking locations for approximately 60 species of odonates in NY. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation afforded state threatened status to its first odonates in 1999 as part of an official revision of the state endangered/threatened/special concern lists. Twelve new taxa have been added to the state since 1992 (Donnelly 1999) as the interest in this group has continued to grow, and new records for species tracked by NYNHP have been added on an annual basis. We are poised to make the next big jump in our understanding of the distribution and conservation status of this popular and fascinating group of insects as we prepare to embark on a three year New York Odonate Inventory project.



Paul Novak

Program Zoologist

New York Natural Heritage Program

625 Broadway, 5th Floor

Albany, NY 12233-4757


Paul Novak holds BS and MS degrees in Wildlife Biology from Cornell University. He worked as the Director of Science and Stewardship of the Lower Hudson Chapter of The Nature Conservancy from 1989-1991 and became involved with odonates through meeting Ken Soltesz and Nick Donnelly. He became Zoologist with The New York Natural Heritage Program in the fall of 1991 and has been involved in conducting surveys for rare odonates since that time. He has been a member of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas since 1992.