Grant Award: Conservation Assessment of 165 Texas Dragonflies Focusing on the 24 Most Imperiled

The Texas Emerald (Somatochlora margarita) a rarely encountered dragonfly with a limited range, including Texas and Louisiana.





John Abbott, Kevin Kocot and Kendra Abbott were awarded a $500k State Wildlife Grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife to study Texas dragonflies over the next four years. Freshwater habitats in Texas are critically important to the rich biodiversity of the state, but many of these habitats and the organisms living within them are under threat. For one of the most popular and ecologically important groups of aquatic insects, dragonflies (Odonata: Anisoptera), we will provide state conservation status rankings for all 165 species occurring in Texas. To help make these assessments we will first conduct phylogenetic analyses for potentially cryptic species. We will then infer ancestral and current population sizes for species determined to be imperiled or critically imperiled (around 24 species) using whole-genome sequencing and cutting-edge population genomic approaches. Finally, we will determine distributions of eight species that are both state and globally rare or rarely encountered where more information is needed using environmental DNA from potential habitats.