Information on the New Hampshire Dragonfly Survey
Project Goal: To gain a better understanding of the distribution of dragonfly species of conservation concern in New Hampshire.
Timeline: The NH Dragonfly Survey was a 5-year project that took place from 2007 to 2011.
Description: Over 200 volunteers attended workshops and were trained in dragonfly biology, identification, and data collection methods. Many of these volunteers went on to conduct surveys and collected data from all corners of the state. The NH Dragonfly Survey established the most thorough index on the status of dragonflies in New Hampshire ever compiled. The information collected can be used as a reference point to track future changes in dragonfly populations.
Partners: The NH Dragonfly Survey was a partnership of NH Fish and Game’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, NH Audubon and UNH Cooperative Extension.
Outcomes: When the project started, very little was known about the status or distribution of dragonflies in New Hampshire. Now there are more than 16,000 documented records of dragonflies for the entire state; 30 towns have more than 75 species documented, and 6 towns have more than 100!
Because of volunteers, and NH Audubon biologist Pam Hunt’s training and encouragement, biologists now know the statewide distribution for 164 species of dragonflies, including 3 new species of dragonflies that were not known to occur in the state.
Most of the target species biologists were hoping to find were in fact documented. And, most have been found to be more common than previously known. The scarlet bluet, for example, was previously thought to be a coastal plain species, and there were only 5 records of it occurring before the NH Dragonfly Survey began. Now, there are more than 40 records of the species in New Hampshire, being found as far north as Berlin.
Seven species had historic records of being found in New Hampshire, but were not found over the 5 years of the Dragonfly Survey. One in particular was the zigzag darner (which is found in Maine and New York) but there was just a single old record of it being here in New Hampshire, at Hermit Lake, near the base of Tuckerman’s Ravine, 75 or 100 years ago. Two visits were made to Hermit Lake during the NH Dragonfly Survey but no Zigzags were found.
The data collected from the NH Dragonfly survey will provide a baseline for dragonfly species distribution and abundance. In the near future, the findings will provide useful information for biologists to reassess what species we should be concerned about and what changes, if any, need to be made to the state list of threatened and endangered species.
We don’t know how habitats or dragonfly populations will change in the future. But having this baseline assessment will enable biologists to measure changes in distribution and abundance of dragonflies in New Hampshire.
Funding: Private donations have provided the foundation for the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program since its inception in 1988. Contributions support on-the-ground work and also enable the Nongame Program to qualify for additional funding through grants from both the State of New Hampshire and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Donations made to the Nongame Program are matched dollar-for-dollar by the State of New Hampshire up to $50,000 annually. Please help keep this important work going by donating to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program.
The Nongame Program also receives a portion of proceeds from the sale of the NH Conservation License plate (moose plate) each year. To learn more please visit the NH Moose Plate Program online at www.mooseplate.com.