Analysis of the diversity, distribution, and status of odonates in Europe
The global diversity of odonates is estimated to about 7000 species, of which a total of 143 species of dragonflies and damselflies live in the freshwater ecosystems (e.g. lakes, ponds, rivers) of Europe.
In a recent paper published in Hydrobiologia, Kalkman et al. report analyses of the diversity, distribution, and status of odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) in Europe, using the Atlas of the European dragonflies and damselflies.
The authors show that the highest odonatological diversity occurs in central and western-central Europe (Fig. 1).
Fig. 1. Diversity map of the 143 European dragonfly species
The highest diversity of strictly lotic species exists in southwest France and parts of the Iberian Peninsula (Fig. 2).
Fig 2. Diversity of lotic species of dragonflies in Europe
The hotspots for endemic species occur in southwest France, the Iberian Peninsula, and the Balkan Peninsula (Fig. 3).
Fig. 3. Distribution of endemic European dragonflies: A diversity map of the 16 species endemic to Europe; B distribution of the 16 species endemic to Europe
The authors compared the diversity patterns of Odonata species listed in the EU Habitats Directive with those listed in the European Red List and showed “a strong mismatch” between species listed as threatened in Europe, which mainly exist in the Mediterranean, and species legally protected by the European Union, which are concentrated in central and western Europe (Fig. 4).
It is explained that the mismatch has a historical origin. While the species listed in the Habitats Directive were mostly selected in the 1970s and 1980s, the water quality in this period in western and central Europe was quite poor. In fact, habitat quality has improved in this region since the 1990s, but meanwhile, habitat degradation has increased in the Mediterranean.
Fig. 4. Species diversity according to conservation status: A diversity map of the 16 species listed in the European Habitats Directive; B diversity map of the 19 species listed as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered in the European Red List
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Kalkman, V. J., Boudot, J. P., Bernard, R., De Knijf, G., Suhling, F., & Termaat, T. Diversity and conservation of European dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata). Hydrobiologia, 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-017-3495-6