Dragonflies Go Thirsty in Mediterranean, Threatened with Extinction

dragonfly threatened species photo

Photo via Glen Bowman via Flickr CC

Bad news for dragonflies and damselflies as the global water crisis crunches down on us. Due to climate change and poor land management leading to habitat degradation, one fifth of Mediterranean dragonflies and damselflies are threatened with extinction, according to a report by the IUCN.According to the report, 163 Mediterranean dragonflies and damselflies shows five are Critically Endangered, 13 are Endangered, another 13 are Vulnerable, 27 are Near Threatened, 96 are Least Concern and six are Data Deficient, meaning there is not enough information to classify them, but they might also be threatened.

"It is likely things will only get worse for these unique species as climate change and increased water demand take their toll," says Jean Pierre Boudot, member of the IUCN Dragonfly Specialist Group and co-author of the report. "Lower levels of precipitation and drought will lead to degradation of the habitats where the majority of dragonflies and damselflies live."

Not only is increased freshwater scarcity to blame, but much is to be blamed on agricultural practices that ramp up the amount of pollution in what water sources are available as well. The report provides an example that the Spotted Darter used to be common in the Mediterranean, but now it is listed as Vulnerable due to the intensified
agricultural practices in rice fields.

Dragonflies aren't the only species troubled as fresh water supplies in the Medeterranean dwindle. A full 1,912 species of amphibians, birds, cartilaginous fishes, endemic freshwater fishes, crabs and crayfish, mammals, and reptiles have been assessed
to date in the region and about 19% are threatened with extinction, with another 5% Critically Endangered, 7% Endangered and 7% Vulnerable.

"The selection and protection of key sites are essential to ensure the survival of these species," says IUCN's Annabelle Cuttelod, co-author of the report. "Their ecological requirements need to be taken into account in the planning and management of water use, especially for agriculture purposes or infrastructure development. IUCN Red List data can inform both processes."

We've been hearing some great news lately about crazy numbers of new species being discovered - 200 new frog species were discovered in Madagascar in May, and yesterday we heard word that 850 new species of invertebrates were discovered in Australia. It's a shame to have it counterbalanced by this news. Not only is it heartbreaking to hear so many are threatened because of our abuse of water systems, but that many will not be protected despite the threat to their survival. Being on the IUCN list does help to bring attention and resources to the plight of animals.

But status is shaky and often animals are removed only to be put right back in harm's way. For instance, earlier this week we caught word that Humpback whales are under consideration by the US federal government for removal from the endangered species list, something to be approached with trepidation, and grey wolves were removed from the endangered species list only to be https://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/08/first-gray-wolf-hunt.php within the year.

More on Endangered Species
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