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Spring Meeting 2023

Saturday, 11 March 2023
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09:30 Welcome
09:45 Dragonflies of Cyprus Mary Michaelides, Cyprus Dragonfly Study Group
10:15 Pond building in Panama Joel Ashton, BDS Ambassador
10:45 Break
11:00 Cameroon Dragonfly Project Dave Chelmick, Dragonfly Conservation Group (BDS)
11:30 Q&A morning speakers
12:00 Break
12:15 BDS update from staff
12:45 Lunch
13:45 Response of a dragonfly community to changing habitat conditions Andreas Chovanec, Brunn am Gebirge, Austria
14:15 Detecting Odonata with eDNA Rhema Dike, American Museum of Natural History
14:45 Break
15:00 Why is Paxton Pits Nature Reserve (BDS Hotspot) so good for Aeshna isoceles? Observations of its Natural History outside Norfolk. Steve Cham, Dragonfly Conservation Group (BDS)
15:30 Q&A afternoon speakers
16:00 End


Order of speakers may change

Speakers (order to be decided)


Response of a dragonfly community to changing habitat conditions

Andreas Chovanec, Brunn am Gebirge, Austria

A small, wetland created in 2014 was subject to an odonatological study carried out from 2016 to 2021. A high number of field trips (236) allowed detailed analyses of the reaction of the dragonfly community on the rapid development of the vegetation: decrease of the number of species and individuals; reduction of the site- and species-specific flight periods; only one generation in bivoltine species; changes in reproduction behaviour.

The Odonata of this wetland were investigated from 2016-2021. Here are photos from 2016 (left) and 2018 (right).


Keeled Skimmer: Most of the species left the wetland, the Keeled Skimmer Orthetrum coerulescens was the only species colonising the site during the investigation period. The pruinescent thorax is interpreted as a reaction on rising temperatures due to climate change.  


Cameroon Dragonfly Project

David Chelmick, Dragonfly Conservation Group (BDS)

In the late 1970s, Graham Vick met Robert Gambles a celebrated expert on African dragonflies.  “Try and get to Cameroon” Robert would advise “it’s the Holy Grail!”. Graham explored various possibilities which all came to nothing. In 1994, Graham was teaching at Shiplake College when an opportunity came up to visit Cameroon. The first piece of this jigsaw was in place. The next piece came at the BDS Annual Meeting. Chris Gibbins had recently returned from a birding trip to Mount Kupe in southwest Cameroon and convinced Graham that this was the place to visit. Contacts were made, permits put in place, the puzzle was now complete and in Spring 1995, Graham with his wife Mary made their way to Nyasoso, a village on Mount Kupe and the headquarters of the Mount Kupe Forest Project, where the team were lined up awaiting their arrival.

This trip was a success; local people were employed to carry on the study and it was clear that more visits would be required if a proper understanding of the dragonfly fauna was to be made. But who would go? David Chelmick agreed to become involved and The Cameroon Dragonfly Project (CDP) was formed.

This talk is about the 4 trips we made between 1996 and 2003, the impact of the CDP on the study of African dragonflies and what is so special about Cameroon! As well as the dragonflies, it explores some of the fascinating people and challenges of travelling and living in this hub of rainforest biodiversity which, sadly, is no longer accessible to western visitors.

Pentaphlebia stahli, an endemic damselfly from south west Cameroon. The adult on the left and its unique larva on the right


Why is Paxton Pits Nature Reserve (BDS Hotspot) so good for Aeshna isoceles? Observations of its Natural History outside Norfolk.

Steve Cham, Dragonfly Conservation Group (BDS)

Following its discovery at Paxton Pits, Cambridgeshire in 2011, the population of Aeshna isoceles (Green-eyed Hawker / Norfolk Hawker) has gone from strength to strength. In 2022 more than 500 exuviae and many adults were recorded, making it the largest population outside Norfolk and Suffolk. As a BDS hotspot the habitat conditions and factors that make this site so good are discussed in this talk. The use of modern camera technology has revealed observations of its behaviour that would otherwise go unnoticed.



Aeshna isoceles copulating inflight at Paxton Pits.                                                Aeshna isoceles larva ready to emerge.  


The Dragonflies of Cyprus

Mary Michaelides

Cyprus lies between 3 continents, Europe, Asia and Africa, so even though only 32 dragonfly species have been recently observed, 23 do not fly in the UK. Furthermore Cyprus is the only place in Europe where Ischnura intermedia has been observed and one of the few places in Europe where Anax immuculifrons, Orthetrum chrysostigma, Orthetrum sabina, Orthetrum taeniolatum, Trithemis arteriosa and Trithemis festiva can be seen. Mary will talk about the species that fly on Cyprus, their preferred habitats and their phenology.

Mary Michaelides is a member of the Dragonfly Study Group since 2017 and has published the book, Dragonflies of Cyprus, A Field Guide in Greek.












Lestes macrostigma                        Orthetrum chrysostigma                Orthetrum sabina


Trithemis arteriosa


Evaluation of environmental DNA (eDNA) as a tool for odonate diversity assessment in the tropics

Rhema Dike, American Museum of Natural History

eDNA has increasingly become a useful tool in monitoring organisms and as a result, plays a huge role in biodiversity assessments. Previous eDNA studies have been carried out in temperate regions and in the study of aquatic vertebrates thereby, creating a knowledge gap to be filled. Therefore, this study was aimed at evaluating the success of this technique in assessing dragonfly diversity in tropical regions. Overall, after several optimization processes, we had some success with family and species-level ID. However, with some further tweaks and iterations, we are confident in establishing a working pipeline for using this technique in regions with sub-optimal climatic conditions.


Booking required: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/british-dragonfly-society-spring-meeting-2023-tickets-507460727697