The odonates are one of our best-known insect groups, but the life history, distribution and habitat requirements of many species of Canadian odonates are poorly understood. Without this basic knowledge, it will be difficult to determine population trends or to prevent population declines or extinctions.
Over the past decade, odonate surveys have greatly improved the knowledge of odonate habitat and distribution in a number of provinces and territories. For example, prior to 1995 the Quebec Emerald (Somatochlora brevicincta) was known only from a few isolated peatlands in Quebec, but has now been found in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and British Columbia. This is probably not a recent range expansion; rather, new surveys and a better understanding of its ecology have simply led to its discovery in new locations. Similarly, a recent survey in the Northwest Territories added five species of odonates to the territorial species list.
In the future, systematic surveys, long-term monitoring and focused research projects into biology, life history, threats and other relevant questions will be necessary to improve knowledge of Canadian odonates. This will be particularly important in the north, where odonates are poorly known. Ongoing volunteer projects, such as the Ontario Odonata Survey and Atlas and the Manitoba Dragonfly Survey will be important in providinglong-term information on the distribution and biology of odonates. The results of this general status assessment have aided the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in prioritising odonate species for detailed COSEWIC status assessments, which will examine the status of some species currently ranked May Be At Risk in greater detail.