The effects of environmental warming on Odonata: a review


Climate change brings with it unprecedented rates of increase in environmental temperature, which will have major consequences for the earth’s flora and fauna. The Odonata represent a taxon that has many strong links to this abiotic factor due to its tropical evolutionary history and adaptations to temperate climates. Temperature is known to affect odonate physiology including life-history traits such as developmental rate, phenology and seasonal regulation as well as immune function and the production of pigment for thermoregulation. A range of behaviours are likely to be affected which will, in turn, influence other parts of the aquatic ecosystem, primarily through trophic interactions. Temperature may influence changes in geographical distributions, through a shifting of species’ fundamental niches, changes in the distribution of suitable habitat and variation in the dispersal ability of species. Finally, such a rapid change in the environment results in a strong selective pressure towards adaptation to cope and the inevitable loss of some populations and, potentially, species. Where data are lacking for odonates, studies on other invertebrate groups will be considered. Finally, directions for research are suggested, particularly laboratory studies that investigate underlying causes of climate-driven macroecological patterns.

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