Inventorying Iowa’s Odonates with MSIM

Iowa's wildlife populations are becoming increasingly threatened by several factors including loss of suitable habitat, human development (both agricultural and urban), and climate change. Population monitoring allows researchers and managers to evaluate how wildlife are responding to these threats over time, thus enabling them to develop plans for conserving wildlife and ensuring its viability. The Iowa Multiple Species Inventory and Monitoring Program (MSIM) is a standardized wildlife survey conducted across Iowa with the goals of providing an inventory of Iowa's wildlife and establishing a baseline for future monitoring efforts. MSIM is designed to survey as many species as possible, including species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) designated by the Iowa Wildlife Action Plan as well as those species currently considered "common". Surveys are conducted on public properties for nine wildlife taxa; birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, odonates, butterflies, fish, mussels, and terrestrial snails. In addition to wildlife surveys, the project also conducts terrestrial and aquatic habitat surveys on these properties. Data collected through MSIM will be used to relate species presence-absence information to habitat characteristics with the ultimate goal of providing habitat management recommendations that will benefit species of greatest conservation need, as well as other common species.

Odonates have been surveyed through MSIM since 2007.  Visual encounter surveys (VES) are conducted on all properties twice during spring (15 April - 14 June), summer (15 June - 14 August), and fall (15 August - 15 October) for a total of six visits each year. VES involve a 4-hour, timed search of suitable habitat on each property during which all individual odonates are identified to species and recorded. If a species cannot be identified on the wing it is captured using an aerial insect net and identified in hand. Any individuals not identified are collected for later identification.

From 2007 - 2012, the project has identified 103 Odonate species in Iowa, 22 of which are listed as species of greatest conservation need in the Iowa Wildlife Action Plan and 6 are new state records. The state records include the following species: Banded Pennant (Celithemis fasciata), Painted Skimmer (Libellula semifasciata), Blue Corporal (Ladona deplanata), Westfall's Snaketail (Ophiogomphus westfalli), Stream Cruiser (Didymops transversa), and Springtime Darner (Basiaeschna janata). Currently, MSIM is working to determine habitat associations of some Iowa odonate species in order to better manage habitat for conserving these critters. The next phase of the project hopes to evaluate population trends of some odonate species in Iowa to assess their status and determine which populations are in need of conservation action.

Any questions regarding MSIM can be directed to:

Tyler Harms
Iowa MSIM Biologist
harmsy [AT] iastate [DOT] edu
(515) 294-9682