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THE ODONATOLOGISTS

THE ODONATOLOGISTS

Photo by Douglas Gayeton

THE ODONATOLOGISTS

Dragonflies and damselflies are in the taxonomic order of Odonata, so people who study them are called “odonatologists”

DRAGONFLIES LIVE IN THE WATER AS IMMATURE NYMPHS AND ON LAND AS ADULTS, WHERE THEY’RE INFLUENCED BY THE QUALITY OF BOTH RIVER WATER AND THE LAND AROUND IT. WHAT THEY’RE TELLING US NOW ABOUT THE CROW RIVER ISN’T GOOD.
Dragonflies can live in the water for years, with different species occupying almost every niche available on a river. Some species will only live in rivers with excellent water quality or in a very specific habitat. When you look at the overall diversity and density of Dragonflies and Damselflies, or when sensitive species go missing from a particular part of the river, like the Crow, it offers clues about the health of the waterway. For example, certain toxins can bioaccumulate in their bodies, which is why the National Park Service uses them to study mercury levels.

WHAT CAN DRAGONFLIES TELL US ABOUT WATER QUALITY?
“Wetlands and floodplains allow water to filter and slowly enter a river like the Crow over an extended period of time. In agricultural areas these are often replaced by irrigation ditches fed by vast networks of underground pipes designed to quickly remove water. These ‘tiles’ move water more rapidly across the landscape, changing water levels and increasing siltation and erosion. They can also carry excessive nutrients from row crow fertilizers used to grow corn and soy, pesticides, and waste from livestock.
Other threats to a river include invasive species, urban sprawl and human population growth … all of which result in a lower diversity of dragonflies.”

“I know what healthy rivers should look like and seeing a ‘sick’ river breaks my heart; humans need healthy functioning environments to live happy and healthy lives”

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