published on 16 December 2021 in ecosystems
Endangered dragonflies and threatened wetlands
Dragonflies have inhabited planet Earth for 300 million years and there are currently 6,016 known species. According to the latest version of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, 16% of known dragonfly and damselfly species are threatened with extinction, primarily due to human destruction of habitats, i.e. wetlands such as swamps, bogs, and marshes. Swamps and other wetlands may seem unproductive and inhospitable to humans, but in fact they provide us with essential services. They store CO2, provide us with clean water and food, protect us from flooding, and are the habitat for one-tenth of the world’s known species. Given their value, it is alarming that they are disappearing at a rate three times faster than forests.
The borderline case is Southeast Asia and South Asia, where natural ecosystems are being replaced by huge intensive oil palm plantations and, as a result, a quarter of the species are at risk. In the case of Central and South America, the main threat is housing development. In addition, climate change and the intensive use of chemical pollutants, such as pesticides, are putting a strain on the survival of these insects worldwide.