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Global diversity of dragonflies (Odonata) in freshwater

Authors:Vincent J. Kalkman, Viola Clausnitzer, Klaas-Douwe B. Dijkstra, Albert G. Orr, Dennis R. Paulson and Jan van Tol

Abstract:Larvae of almost all of the 5,680 species of the insect order Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) are dependent on freshwater habitats. Both larvae and adults are predators. The order is relatively well studied, and the actual number of species may be close to 7,000. Many species have small distributional ranges, and are habitat specialists, including inhabitants of alpine mountain bogs, seepage areas in tropical rain forests, and waterfalls. They are often successfully used as indicators for environmental health and conservation management. The highest diversity is found in flowing waters in rain forests of the tropics, the Oriental and Neotropical regions being the most speciose. This paper discusses diversity, summarises the biogeography of dragonflies in the different biogeographical regions and gives the total number of species and genera per family per biogeographical region. Examples are given of areas of particular diversity, in terms of areas of endemism, presence of ancient lineages or remarkable recent radiations but no well-based review of areas with high endemism of dragonflies is available so far. The conservation status of dragonflies is briefly discussed. Species confined to small remnants of forest in the tropics are most under threat of extinction by human activities.

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