Libellula jesseana 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Odonata Libellulidae

Scientific Name: Libellula jesseana Williamson, 1922
Common Name(s):
English Purple Skimmer

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B1ab(iv) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2018
Date Assessed: 2016-05-05
Assessor(s): Paulson, D.R.
Reviewer(s): Clausnitzer, V. & Abbott, J.
The known range of this species is limited to ten counties in Florida, including parts of the Panhandle and the northern peninsula at clear sandy lakes with little aquatic vegetation but usually with a shoreline belt of tall Maidencane (Panicum hemitomon). These habitats are scarce under pristine conditions. In addition, many of these lakes are in areas not protected from development, and it has been stated—without adequate documentation, unfortunately—that eutrophication of these lakes will reduce or eliminate populations of L. jesseana (Dunkle 2000). Considered Insufficiently Known by Bick (1983) and Imperiled (G2) by Bick (2003).

Recent information (J.J. Daigle pers. comm. 2007) indicates the species has not been seen recently at some former locations in the Florida Peninsula, thus there have been extirpations of local populations. No exhaustive surveys have been conducted recently, but the species has been found at several new localities in recent years (Odonata Central 2016). Recently, it had been thought that Scheeler Lake in Gold Head Branch State Park, Clay County, and South Grasshopper Lake, Lake County, were the only dependable places for the species, but numerous populations are now also known from Bay and Washington counties (Keppner 2012). In addition, in 2015 an apparently thriving population was found at the southern end of the known range in Polk County (Odonata Central 2016). The Extent of Occurrence of the two known metapopulations appears to be a bit less than 20,000 km2, some subpopulations have clearly declined, and from all we know of its natural history and human occupation of Florida, more decline is predicted. In addition, presently the species is known from fewer than 10 locations.

Because of its restricted range and known locations, the disappearance of some populations, threat of habitat loss, and drought affecting its shallow-water habitats from global climate change, L. jesseana should be assessed as Vulnerable. Considerably more effort spent surveying lakes on the Florida Peninsula might result in an upgrade in ranking.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is apparently confined to northwestern (Bay and Washington counties) and peninsular Florida (Clay County to Polk County) in the United States of America.
Countries occurrence:
United States (Florida)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:1-1999
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):Unknown
Number of Locations:6-7
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Even at optimal habitats, populations of L. jesseana seem small, and the overall population trend remains unknown. However, several historical populations have disappeared in recent decades, and there is no indication that other populations have increased.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Libellula jesseana is found in clear sandy lakes and ponds with little aquatic vegetation but with a shoreline belt of tall Maidencane (Panicum hemitomon) and/or sedges and St. John's Wort (Hypericum). Apparently uses smaller, more vegetated ponds as well on Florida Panhandle (Keppner 2012). It appears to be much more limited in habitat choice than its close relative L. auripennis.
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater
Generation Length (years):0-1

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Eutrophication and other types of water pollution from human settlement at and near lakes, ongoing in much of L. jesseana range in Florida, continue to threaten the habitat. Ground-water depletion because of irrigation could dry up some of the shallower ponds, as that is also continuing to happen on the sandy ridges of Florida. Small populations at several small ponds in the Florida Panhandle have disappeared as the ponds dried up during a drought period, but some of these ponds were colonized when they again held water (E. Keppner pers. comm.). Drought, a greater probability with climate change, will affect this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The best-known population of L. jesseana is protected in Gold Head Branch State Park, but most other lakes of historical occurrence are not protected, including sites recently elaborated in the Florida Panhandle (Keppner 2012). Research is urgently needed to determine the present extent of occurrence and area of occupancy. Is the gap between the Polk County location and presently known locations to the north in Lake County real? There used to be appropriate habitats in-between and perhaps still are. Surveys in appropriate habitats would be quite feasible and perhaps could be conducted during a single flight season. Research is also needed on habitat needs of larvae, in comparison with other Libellula, although larvae may be indistinguishable from those of L. auripennis. Should be sought in ecologically similar lakes all over north Florida and in adjacent Georgia and Alabama. The historic Palm Beach County record is quite anomalous, as L. jesseana habitat is not typical of that area, and should be confirmed or discredited.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.5. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.7. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.3. Tourism & recreation areas
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.2. Droughts
♦ timing:Ongoing    

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.2. Dams & water management/use -> 7.2.8. Abstraction of ground water (unknown use)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

9. Pollution -> 9.1. Domestic & urban waste water -> 9.1.3. Type Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

9. Pollution -> 9.3. Agricultural & forestry effluents -> 9.3.4. Type Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Bick, G.H. 1983. Odonata at risk in conterminous United States and Canada. Odonatologica 12(3): 209–226.

Bick, G.H. 2003. At-risk Odonata of conterminous United States. Bulletin of American Odonatology 7: 41-56.

Dunkle, S.W. 1989. Dragonflies of the Florida Peninsula, Bermuda and the Bahamas. Scientific Publishers, Gainesville, Florida.

Dunkle, S.W. 2000. Dragonflies Through Binoculars. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Dunkle, S.W. 2004. Critical species of Odonata in North America. International Journal of Odonatology 7(2): 149-162.

IUCN. 2018. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2018-1. Available at: (Accessed: 28 June 2018).

Keppner, E.J. 2012. Notes on the distribution of the Purple Skimmer (Libellula jesseana) with emphasis on Bay and Washington counties, Florida. Argia 24(3): 12-16.

Needham, J.G., Westfall, M.J., Jr. and May, M.L. 2014. Dragonflies of North America, Third Edition. Scientific Publishers, Gainesville, Florida.

Paulson, D. 2011. Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Paulson, D.R. and Dunkle, S.W. 2009. A checklist of North American Odonata including English name, etymology, type locality, and distribution. Originally published as Occasional Paper No. 56, Slater Museum of Natural History, University of Puget Sound, June 1999; completely revised 2012. Available at:

Westfall, M.J., Jr. 1943. Synonymy of Libellula auripennis and Libellula jesseana and the description of a new species (Odonata). Transactions of the American Entomological Society 69: 17-31.

Williamson, E.B. 1922. Libellulas collected in Florida by Jesse H. Williamson, with a description of a new species (Odonata). Entomological News 33: 13-19.

Citation: Paulson, D.R. 2018. Libellula jesseana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T11929A80679783. . Downloaded on 25 September 2018.
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