Beauty above Water Surface – Why We Do Not Know Enough About Dragonflies in Serbia?

Aca Đurđević

The project objective is to improve distribution maps of dragonflies in eastern and southeastern Serbia, share knowledge about these insects and promote preservation of their habitats. It will be implemented through making taxonomic tree for Odonata within database and collecting georeferenced entries from the field. A series of lectures about taxonomy of this group of insects, their larval stages and habitats will be realised and the first Serbian field guide for identification of dragonflies will be printed. This will help reach more people and involve them in the world of this fascinating group of insects.

Anax imperator. ©Milan Ilić.

Anax imperator. ©Milan Ilić.

Genuine opinion is that dragonflies are one of the most attractive groups of insects, but our knowledge about their distribution in Serbia is still modest. The final checklist of dragonflies for the country is probably incomplete since two new species have been discovered in the last decade. Their life during the larval development is closely related to aquatic habitats and I could note that their diversity is exceptionally rich in southern and eastern Serbia. Dragonflies habitats are usually small and include water body with specific plant and animal communities that are very sensitive to human impacts. Destruction of such fragile system would strongly affect dragonflies and many other plants and animal species. Through conserving of dragonflies, that has been my passion for a long time, I would also like to help in protecting other species. In my country, there is an evident lack of experts in this field and most people know very little or nothing about dragonflies. The unavailable literature in Serbian language is not helping overcome this problem. By producing the simple field guide and enabling people to enter the data in Biologer database, I hope to gather small team of people interested in studying these wonderful insects.

The most important legacy of this project would be a field guide on the recognition of Odonata species of Serbia. This would provide the means for every person, whether a biologist or just nature and insects enthusiast, to learn more about this group of insects. They can also find out more pieces of information about presence and distribution of certain species, which, on the other hand, appear to be the most attractive and representative group of aquatic habitats. In the long term, this approach can lead to involvement of local communities in preservation of water reservoirs located in their vicinity.

Generally, the project will ease future dragonfly research by providing an online database and simple field guide for every use. We hope this is only an initial step in dragonfly studies and conservation in Serbia. With inclusion of more people it could open many other possibilities for research and protection.

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