The State of Dragonflies 2020

Get Closer to the Dragonflies of your Favourite Wetland


Following on from the 2014 Atlas of Dragonflies and Damselflies in Britain and Ireland, the BDS aims to produce a State of Dragonflies report 2020...and we need your help!

We are currently undergoing one of the greatest periods of change in dragonfly distribution, with a number of species newly colonising the UK and spreading at an unprecedented rate. At the same time, climate change is raising interesting questions on an uncertain future for some of our species. In response to this, the BDS plans to release a State of Dragonflies report 2020, with trend analysis revealing how our breeding species have fared since the Atlas' release.

The Atlas pulled together the thousands of hours work given by volunteer dragonfly recorders, producing an astonishingly thorough account of the current distribution of British dragonfly and damselfly populations. Not only does this let us know how dragonflies were faring up to 2014, but it also gives a fantastic reference point for future comparisons. We hope that volunteer effort can once again provide us with the vital data needed to create population trend analyses, by taking part in Complete Lists and Adopt a Site.


Complete Lists

These are as simple as they sound. A list of all the adult dragonfly species you see during a single visit to a wetland site gives us the data needed to produce robust trend analyses. You can carry out a Complete List on any visit you make to a wetland site, even if you only visit it once. You don't even need to include individual counts, life stage or behavioural information, although all of these are welcome additions to your record. Complete Lists should be carried out in warm, dry weather between May and September, although lists made in less ideal conditions can still be useful. No equipment is needed except a notebook, pencil and binoculars or a camera for any far off dragons! Make sure you walk around the site fully, covering those areas, such as pools and streams, where dragonflies and damselflies might be breeding.

You can submit your records online using iRecord, via the Dragonflies App or by sending them to the relevant BDS County Dragonfly Recorder. When entering your records from a Complete List, make sure to remember to tick the Complete List box or let the County Dragonfly Recorder know so we can include your data into trend analyses.


Adopt a Site

You can adopt a chosen wetland site on which to carry out complete lists two or three times between May and September over successive years. This will increase the value of the records for trend analysis. Get in touch with your BDS County Dragonfly Recorder to inform them of your adopted site or for help choosing a site.

Choosing a site

The aim is that those sites adopted should together provide records of all the species that breed in each (Vice) county. The species which are hardest to produce trends for are the scarce ones so including sites which support such species will be important. The BDS County Dragonfly Recorder should be able to help you choose a site which will both provide the best information for analysis and be convenient to you. If you do wish to Adopt a Site, please let him or her know. If your county does not have a County Dragonfly Recorder, contact the BDS Records Officer about your chosen site. This will help us avoid double adoption of sites and make us aware of sites which need adopting.

More than one favourite site?

Let’s say you have two sites, A and B, which you are keen to survey and limited time to survey in over two years. Given that you can’t visit both sites many times in both years, what is the best way to survey them? One option would be to do lots of visits to site A in year 1 and a few (1-2) visits to site B, with the opposite pattern in the following year. This would be better than either only visiting site A in year 1 and site B in year 2 or visiting both sites only a few times each year.

Spread the Word

If you would like to advertise Complete Lists and Adopt a Site to a local group, click here for a printable flier.