Odonata species diversity, distributions, and status in a rare sand prairie-savanna wetscape


Inland sand areas scattered across the North American eastern deciduous forest and western tallgrass prairie ecotone are known for supporting pyrogenic early-successional vegetation and specially adapted terrestrial faunas. Many of these globally and regionally rare systems contain functionally connected wetland networks (“wetscapes”) potentially important for aquatic insects. Sampling adults, nymphs, and exuviae in a remnant sand prairie-savanna wetscape in Illinois, USA, I assessed odonate species diversity (alpha, gamma, beta), distributions (spatial, temporal, abundance), and rarity status. In one field season (12 sites, 12 visits) I found more than a third of Illinois odonate species and close to half of the state’s lentic breeding odonates, including a new state record (Erythemis vesiculosa). Richness averaged 25.8 species per site, reducing to 12.4 species with removal of nonbreeding occurrences. Three sites including a shrub swamp, beaver pond, and forested vernal depressions complex made significant contributions to beta diversity, dependent on general versus breeding occurrences. Majorities of Anisoptera species (70%) and Zygoptera species (53%) bred at three or fewer sites. Eight species flew during all or most of the study period (late May to early October) whereas 14 species were detected on a single survey. Status classification derived from the observed spatial, temporal, and abundance distributions resulted in 24 common or very common species, 20 uncommon or rare species, and 10 vagrants across the wetscape. These context-specific classifications may be combined with diversity and breeding patterns and other information in wetscape prioritization schemes.

Issue section: Original article