Eur. J. Entomol. 113: 217-232, 2016 | 10.14411/eje.2016.027

Dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) in urban ecosystems: A review

Giovanna VILLALOBOS-JIMÉNEZ, Alison M. DUNN, Christopher HASSALL
School of Biology, University of Leeds, Woodhouse Lane, LS2 9JT, Leeds, United Kingdom; e-mails: bsgdjv@leeds.ac.uk, a.dunn@leeds.ac.uk, c.hassall@leeds.ac.uk

The expansion of urban areas is one of the most significant anthropogenic impacts on the natural landscape. Due to their sensitivity to stressors in both aquatic and terrestrial habitats, dragonflies and damselflies (the Odonata) may provide insights into the effects of urbanisation on biodiversity. However, while knowledge about the impacts of urbanisation on odonates is growing, there has not been a comprehensive review of this body of literature until now. This is the first systematic literature review conducted to evaluate both the quantity and topics of research conducted on odonates in urban ecosystems. From this research, 79 peer-reviewed papers were identified, the vast majority (89.87%) of which related to studies of changing patterns of biodiversity in urban odonate communities. From the papers regarding biodiversity changes, 31 were performed in an urban-rural gradient and 21 of these reported lower diversity towards built up city cores. Twelve of the cases of biodiversity loss were directly related to the concentrations of pollutants in the water. Other studies found higher concentrations of pollutants in odonates from built-up catchments and suggested that odonates such as Aeshna juncea and Platycnemis pennipes may be candidate indicators for particular contaminants. We conclude by identifying current research needs, which include the need for more studies regarding behavioural ecology and life-history traits in response to urbanisation, and a need to investigate the mechanisms behind diversity trends beyond pollution.

Keywords: Odonata, urban ecology, city, anthropogenic stressors, odonates, dragonflies, damselflies, biodiversity, ecotoxicology, behaviour, life history, phenotypic variation, ecological traps, bioindicators

Received: February 25, 2015; Accepted: January 27, 2016; Published online: February 15, 2016

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