Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, is a term for the variety of life on Earth. It can refer to the variety of genes in a species, the variety of species in an ecosystem, and the variety of ecosystems in a landscape or region. High biodiversity usually means better environmental health.

Genetic diversity helps a species adapt to changes in its environment, and to evolve over time.

The biodiversity of dragonflies in Manitoba is not well known. In 1999 a volunteer based project, the Manitoba Dragonfly Survey (MDS), began to inventory this province’s dragonflies. To date the MDS has gathered more than 3000 records of dragonfly species, but much of the province, especially in the north, has yet to be surveyed. (Click here to visit the MDS website.)

There are more than 5500 species of dragonflies and damselflies in the world. In Canada, 208 species have been recorded. In Manitoba, thanks to the MDS, we know there are at least 98 species: 26 species of damselflies and 72 species of true dragonflies. The known species in Manitoba belong to nine different families: three families of damselflies (Zygoptera) and six families of true dragonflies (Anisoptera). (BL = body length)

Broad-winged Damselflies (Calopterygidae)
Large damselflies (5 cm BL) with bright metallic-coloured bodies. Likely only one (1) species in Manitoba, the River Jewelwing (Calopteryx aequabilis). Jewelwings breed in swift running streams and adults remain near the streams.
Spreadwing Damselflies (Lestidae)
Medium to large damselflies (3.5 - 5 cm BL) with dull-coloured bodies. They leave their wings half-open at rest. There are seven (7) species in Manitoba. Spreadwings breed in small and temporary ponds.
Pond Damsels (Coenagrionidae)
Small to medium (2.3 – 4 cm BL), brightly coloured damselflies. There are 17species in Manitoba. Pond damsels breed in ponds and lakes.

Darners (Aeshnidae)
Large, robust dragonflies (6 – 7.5 cm BL), usually with brown or dark blue bodies marked with bright blue or green patches. Their eyes meet in a seam on top of the head. At least 14 species are found here. Darners breed mainly in ponds or still waters and lay eggs inside plant stems.
Clubtails (Gomphidae)
Medium to large dragonflies, (4.3 – 8.3 cm BL), often with an expanded tip (club), at the end of the abdomen. Their eyes do not meet across the top of the head. Thirteen (13) species are found here. Most Clubtails breed in flowing waters, often in large streams or rivers. Adults tend to perch on the ground.
Spiketails (Cordulegastridae)
Large, slender dragonflies (6 – 7.8 cm BL), usually black and yellow in colour. Their eyes just meet on top of the head. Females have a spike-like ovipositor at the tip of the abdomen. Only one (1) species is found in Manitoba, the Twin-spotted Spiketail (Cordulegaster maculatus). Spiketails breed in small streams.
Cruisers (Macromiidae)
Large, slender dragonflies (5.5 – 7 cm BL) with very long legs. Their body colour is variable, but most have bright green eyes. Two (2) species are found in Manitoba. Cruisers breed in clear lakes and streams.
Emeralds (Cordulidae)
Small to medium dragonflies (4 – 6.3 cm BL), with bright green eyes and dark bodies with a metallic sheen. There are 18 species in Manitoba. Emeralds breed in forested lakes, ponds and bogs.
Skimmers (Libellulidae)
Small to medium, stoutly built dragonflies (2.5 – 5 cm BL). There are 24 species here. Skimmers show great variation in colouration and markings. They breed in ponds and still waters.

1) Basic Biology

2) Life Cycle

3) Palaeobiology

4) Biodiversity

5) Biogeography

6) Overwintering / Migration

7) Food

8) Sight and Flight

9) Cultural Significance

10) Conservation

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