These projects have been developed for students studying in Wales. The projects are also listed in the Wales Boidiversity Partnership's Evidence Gaps Project.
Please contact the British Dragonfly Society's Conservation Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
Investigating the habitat requirements of the Variable Damselfly Coenagrion pulchellum.
Research question: How do the characteristics of emergent plant stems affect emergence survival rates?
• Applied significance: Manipulation of emergent vegetation is potentially one of the easier management options, and might be able to significantly increase emergence survival rates.
• Methods: Manipulation of plants themselves in an experimental context is difficult, so plant proxies might be particularly useful. These could emulate different characteristics of emergent vegetation including: stem density, stem diameter, stem height, stem slope, and stem roughness; and could emulate different characteristics of different areas of the pond: sheltered vs windy, sunny vs shaded, artificially shaded (i.e. stem in a sunny position in the water, but artificial shading of the stem), different depths within the pond. The presence of exuviae on the stem-proxies would be the data collected. The larvae would probably not choose to emerge on unsuitable stem proxies, but these 0’s would be important compared to successful designs.
• Logistics – space and time scale: Small. Allowing an answer to be obtained quickly, and experimental replicates to be easily created.
Research question: Are some plants favoured by females showing oviposition behaviour in sites in and around the Preseli SAC?
• Applied significance: Southern Damselflies have been observed showing oviposition behaviour (it may be necessary to check for eggs as sometimes females are just testing a plant’s suitability) in habitat that is considered, by current SAC monitoring protocols, unsuitable.
If populations are able to survive or have adapted to survive in different habitats than those considered traditionally suitable, this should be included in management plans for this species and its sites. Studies of populations in the New Forest have shown that preferred plants used for oviposition were Marsh St John’s-wort Hypericum elodes, Bog Pondweed Potamogeton polygonifolius and Jointed Rush Juncus articulatus. In total, 23 species of plants have been seen to be used for oviposition.
• Methods: Observe oviposition at sites where Southern Damselflies have been observed that are in considered favourable and unfavourable in or near to the Preseli SAC. Comparisons can be made by adding potted plants of differing species to an area (for example, adding the preferred species above to an area which does not have many of these species). Additionally, comparisons can be made between how many times different plants are used for oviposition. Plant species abundance should also be taken into account.
• Logistics – space and time scale: Small time scale with field work in June-July.
Over the past few years we have been working closely with Natural Resources Wales, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and land users to carry out several small practical projects for the Southern Damselfly in the Preseli SAC. Therefore we are already working with a lot of people who could assist in setting up and conducting a project in this area.
Investigating the habitat requirements of the Variable Damselfly Coenagrion pulchellum. Larvae are difficult to identify reliably, so this project would need to look at adult populations. It would most likely involve sampling a lot of sites that support C. pulchellum and recording a large number of environmental variables from each site. Statistical analysis would be used to identify habitat variables that may be important in influencing the distribution and abundance of this species. Further studies could be done to manipulate habitats to inform management and perhaps looking at how dispersive the species is to try to explain its patchy distribution.
photo © Tim Coleshaw