Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and water quality in our streams, rivers and lakes, are three very topical and hugely important issues; all three are now pulled together in a citizen science project called Dragonfly Ireland 2019-2024.
The project is a joint, all-Ireland initiative of the Republic's Waterford-based National Biodiversity Data Centre and Northern Ireland's Centre for Environmental Data and Recording based at Holywood, Co Down.
The project is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. The aim is to survey dragonflies and damselflies over a three-year period partly to update the distribution status of these insects, but also to use information about these aquatic creatures as indicators of climate change and water quality.
As a citizen science survey, the project relies for its success on the generosity of a nationwide network of volunteer recorders to submit records from their local patch. To keep everyone updated on how the survey is progressing, the organisers plan to issue two newsletters per annum, one at the start and one at the end of the recording season.
The project got off to a flying start this year with nearly 3,000 records of 26 species submitted by some 400 individual nature enthusiasts. With 281 records, the Large Red Damselfly was the most frequently recorded species and with 238 records the most frequently recorded dragonfly species was the Common Darter.
Records were received from 30 of the 32 counties, with Co Kildare coming out on top, followed by Co Cork. Anybody can take part and anyone with records of damselflies and dragonflies from last summer is invited to submit their information online to http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/record-biodiversity/dragonfly-ireland-2019-2024/.
Experts need to validate incoming records, so photographs are hugely helpful and very valuable to have to support any submission. In the absence of a photograph, a description of the features which led to the identification of an insect as a particular species is vital.
The advice when photographing chance sightings of dragonflies with a mobile phone camera is to get an image from far away and advance towards the insect taking pictures all the time in the hope that you will capture a reasonably clear close-up image. Easier said than done, of course.
For use in their work, the project organisers appeal to photographers to submit good high-resolution dragonfly or damselfly photos by email to DragonflyIreland@biodiversityireland.ie. They can't pay for the use of photos, but images will, of course, be duly credited where used.