Species List Monitoring for Dragonflies and Damselflies
PDF copy of this document can be downloaded from here.
Monitoring is an entry level "scientific" monitoring protocol.
It is most effective if the submission made lists all
species seen on a visit to a site. However, for the less
experienced observer partial lists are still of great value,
particularly for tracking of distribution and phenology of
For Species List
Monitoring the key requirements that apply when monitoring adult
dragonflies as opposed to simply recording them are:
Monitoring to take place at water bodies:
pond, lake, river or canal. Sites away from water bodies,
e.g. woodland, are not suitable for population monitoring
(though these areas are still valuable for distribution and
phenology). The reason is that adult dragonflies disperse
widely when away from breeding sites. But they must return
to water to breed and in suitable conditions a
representative record of the species present at a site (and
likely to breeding there) is possible.
Monitor along a transect(s) around or along
the bank at a number of points. In some cases it may only be
possible to monitor at one or two points.
Make periodic visits through the year and
year to year if possible. Species fly at different times of
Monitoring must take place in suitable
weather conditions of temperature, percentage sun and wind.
By default, monitoring of adult dragonflies
will take place in the flight season.
monitoring requirements are:
1. Select a suitable water body
2. Timing of visits
Ideally, make at least four visits
a year - late May, mid June, mid July & late
3. Time of day to record.
4. Weather conditions to meet these
Sunny conditions required (>60%
sun, see below).
Do not count if the wind is
stronger than force 4 on the Beaufort scale (see
The temperature should be at least
17°C in the shade. On sunny, calm days, counts
may be made at a slightly lower temperature, but
never less than 15°C.
Do not count during rain, or when
the temperature exceeds 30°C.
Example: Species List Odonata Recording Form
On page 4 there is an example recording form
showing how it might be filled in. Below are notes to help
recording and filling in the recording form:
The site and water body are
identified by name(s) and located by OS grid references. The
grid references are best taken use a GPS but paper or online
maps can be used to determine them. Sometimes a water body
may not have a name, just leave the field unfilled.
For large water bodies you may
decide to record along more than one transect, particularly
if there are differences in habitat in different parts. Use
a separate record form for each transect. The transects
should be 50-100 metres in length.
Start and finish times - on one
transect observe for at least 15 minutes but probably no
more than 45 minutes.
Air temperature - record an estimate
(e.g. use the car thermometer). Only an estimate is
Percentage sun is estimated from the
amount of sunshine experienced during the surveying. For
example if it was sunny during three quarters of the survey
then the percentage cover of sun would be 75%. It is
officially sunny when an object can cast a shadow. Remember,
only an estimate is required.
Wind speed is noted by the Beaufort
number: 0 - Smoke rises vertically, 1 - Slight smoke drift,
2 - Wind felt on face, leaves rustle, 3 - Leaves and twigs
in slight movement, 4 - Dust raised and small branches move,
5 - Small trees in leaf begin to sway & 6 - Large
branches sway. Remember, only an estimate is required.
In the first row of the damselfly and
dragonfly recording table note if you have (y) or have not
(n) recorded all of them. If in doubt, do not record a
species. Lack of data is much better than 'wrong' data. Just
Visit each point at on transect in turn.
Spend sufficient time at each point to make sure you observe
every species. Some species will come in to the water for
only short periods.
Between points look in the bank side and
emergent vegetation. Often you will find damselflies
and newly emerged dragonflies there not seen on the water.
Each species seen is recorded at
least by simple presence. That is all that is necessary but
you can add value to the monitoring by estimating the
numbers of individuals and recording them in one of the
Simple presence (y)
Estimated numbers, indicated by a code:
A=1, B=2-5, C=6-20, D-21-100, E=101-500, F=500+.
A count of individuals seen.
If a species not on the list is seen,
enter it into one of the blank rows.
A large scale map showing the transect is
useful but not necessary. Unless some change is made it only
needs made once.
Completed recording forms should be
sent to the Warwickshire Dragonfly Recorder by email to:
email@example.com. A blank Word copy of the recording
form that can be filled in can be down loaded from here.
A PDF version of
the recording form that is suitable for printing can be
A paper copy can be printed and can be sent to:
Peter Reeve, WDG
co-ordinator, The Outspan, Leamington Hastings, Near Rugby,
Warwickshire CV23 8DZ.
Hints and Tips
If you can, survey with someone else, not
only is it safer and more fun, it often helps to have
someone to discuss the finer identification details with.
Equipment to take:
Note book or Record Sheet
Habitat - does the species live in the
habitat you have found it in?
Distribution - does the species occur in
Time - does the species fly at the time of
year you are surveying?
All the above
information for Warwickshire species can be found on the
Warwickshire Dragonfly Website: www.warwickshire-dragonflies.org.uk. Your ID
book will have country wide information too.
Photos of unknown species can always be
sent in to the County Dragonfly Recorder.
Reading through ID books before going out
in the field can help familiarise yourself with where
families etc are located in the book.
- Finally don't spend hours agonising over identification
of a single species. Surveying is supposed to be fun!
Recommended Identification Books
Brooks, S., Cham S. and Lewington R. Field
Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of Great Britain and
Ireland. British Wildlife Publishing, Edition 5, 2014
Smallshire S. & Swash A.. Britain's
Dragonflies. WildGuides Edition 3. 2014.
Dijkstra K. B. & Lewington R. Field
Guide to the Dragonflies of Britain and Europe. British
Wildlife Publishing. 2006.
Banner artwork by Joan Sharrett
Last updated Sat Mar 12 13:04:09 2016
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