DRAGONFLY POND WATCH
Dragonfly Pond Watch, is a volunteer/citizen science program that seeks to gather information about five North American species of migratory dragonflies. To help gather information on migratory dragonflies, the Xerces Society created the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership (MDP), a collaboration of federal, academic, scientific, and non-governmental organizations. Their goals are to increase understanding about dragonfly migration and in turn promote dragonfly habitat conservation. Citizen science participants in Dragonfly Pond Watch, make monthly observations at selected aquatic locations for the presence or absence of target migratory dragonfly species and to record their behaviors. The collaboration extends from Canada to the U.S.A. and Mexico.
There are five focal species of migratory dragonflies in North America: Common Green Darner (Anax junius), Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens), Spot-Winged Glider (Pantala hymenaea), Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata) and the Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum).
The continent-wide program operates by having volunteers routinely observe and record sightings of the 5 migratory dragonfly species of interest, and submit the data on-line for analysis. The observer will spend 30 to 45 minutes at their aquatic site, recording the following: date, location, life stage, sex, behavior, and abundance. They then upload the data onto the MDP website. Collected data is analyzed to help researchers understand migration times, cues and pathways; when and where emergence takes place (emergence is when the nymph becomes a dragonfly); understand and re-construct dragonfly life histories; identify wintering grounds; aid in pinpointing areas of concern and the need for conservation programs and/or wetland protection. Unlike butterfly migration, dragonfly migration is poorly documented or known. The more we find out about dragonflies and their habitats, the better we can help sustain and protect them.
Why monitor ponds? Dragonflies breed in and near aquatic habitats. Their eggs need to be laid close to, or in water. Dragonfly nymphs may spend weeks to years feeding, growing, and molting in aquatic habitats. When they are finally ready to emerge from the water, they will climb out and break free from their final nymphal form. Water is key to the dragonfly life-cycle and therefore a good place to find them.
At Westcave Preserve, staff monitors three aquatic sites; two man-made ponds and the natural grotto pool. We survey the sites monthly and make a record all of the dragonfly species that we see. We report any migratory species to the MDP website, and keep a preserve list of all the species we observe.