Dragonflies

Aim

The conservation status of 165 Mediterranean species of dragonflies occurring in the Mediterranean basin was assessed, according to the IUCN regional Red Listing criteria. It identifies species that are threatened with extinction at regional level so that appropriate conservation action can be taken to improve their status.

 

Beautiful demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo meridionalis). Photo © Jean-Pierre Boudot.

   

Geographical scope

The Mediterranean region was defined in terms of freshwater hydrosystems by identifying all catchments of rivers flowing into the Mediterranean Sea as well as in the adjacent Atlantic waters of Spain, Portugal and Morocco.

Status assessment

The status of all species was assessed using the IUCN Red List Criteria (IUCN 2001), and following the Guidelines for Application of IUCN Red List Criteria at Regional Levels (IUCN 2003). The assessments were peer-reviewed by other experts during a workshop and through correspondence with relevant experters in close collaboration with IUCN/SSC Dragonfly Specialist Group.

The IUCN/SSC Dragonfly Specialist Group focuses on the conservation of damselflies, dragonflies and their freshwater  habitats. The DSG has a global volunteer network of over 50 expert members across the globe. Main focus of the work is the gathering and dissemination of information on distribution and threats of the nearly 6.000 damselflies and dragonflies. Currently the DSG is working on distribution databases and an assessment of the threat status of all damselflies and dragonflies. The Global Dragonfly Assessment will be an important tool in the conservation of freshwater habitats.

Results

 

Almost a fifth (19%) of the dragonfly species occurring in the Mediterranean region are threatened. Four species (2%), Agriocnemis exilis*, Ceriagrion glabrum, Rhyothemis semihyalina and Phyllomacromia africana are listed as Regionally Extinct (RE). A  fourteen percent are endemic: 9 of these are threatened (CR, EN or VU) and 5 Near Threatened (NT). These results highlight the responsibility that the Mediterranean countries have to protect the global populations of these species

 

 

 

* The species Agriocnemis exilis was recently recorded during the last IUCN African Dragonfly workshop (April 2009) and is in theprocess of being re-categorized.

     
 
Conservation status of all the assessed dragonflies of the Mediterranean basin   Conservation status of all the assessed dragonflies endemic of the Mediterranean basin

 

Some areas have a particular high concentration of threatened species: the most notable are the southern Balkans, northeastern Algeria and the Levant with the adjacent southern parts of Turkey. The highest number of endemics is found in the Maghreb and in the Levant whereas the smaller numbers are found

 

 
Species richness of threatened dragonflies assessed in the Mediterranean Basin

 

Habitat destruction, degradation, pollution and mismanagement of water bodies are significant threats to dragonflies in the Mediterranean Basin. In recent years it has become clear that Climate Change will turn out to be one of the most important threats to dragonflies in the Mediterranean. Increased water demand together with a lower level of precipitation will result in the desiccation of brooks, a habitat on which many of the endemics are dependent.

Conclusions

  • Threatened dragonflies in the Mediterranean Basin require urgent action to improve their status. While some species are already receiving some conservation attention thanks to international laws (e.g. the European Habitat Directive), others are not. The priorities identified in this study include addressing the threats, such as the destruction and degradation of freshwater habitats, and the need to improve monitoring, surveys and studies in some important areas of the Mediterranean Basin.
  • Regional action is urgently needed. The highest level of endemism, and the highest portion of threatened dragonflies are found within the Mediterranean region. Based on this, five areas of high conservation concern were selected (Maghreb, The Levant, Crete, Southern Balkans and Western Mediterranean). These areas are discussed separately, and for each one, conservation actions are prioritized.
  • A sustained investment in the conservation and monitoring of species sites and landscapes is needed for all Mediterranean countries. To ensure that Mediterranean species are secure in the long term, this needs to be combined with the political will to integrate biodiversity conservation into all policy sectors. 

For more information

Download the report Status and distribution of dragonflies of the Mediterranean basin in English, Spanish or French from the Publications section.