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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Chicago FWS Office Partners with the University of South Dakota on Captive Rearing Program for Endangered Dragonfly

Region 3, October 19, 2012
Each captive reared Hine's emerald dragonfly larvae is held in a seperate cup and fed by hand. Water is changed frequently with the temperature adjusted seasonally to mimic natural conditions.
Each captive reared Hine's emerald dragonfly larvae is held in a seperate cup and fed by hand. Water is changed frequently with the temperature adjusted seasonally to mimic natural conditions. - Photo Credit: n/a
Captive-reared larvae have been used in field experiments to assess breeding habitat restorations and for ecological toxicity tests.
Captive-reared larvae have been used in field experiments to assess breeding habitat restorations and for ecological toxicity tests. - Photo Credit: n/a
Captive-reared larvae that are ready to emerge as adults are released in specially designed
Captive-reared larvae that are ready to emerge as adults are released in specially designed "e-cages." - Photo Credit: n/a

Methods are currently being developed to refine our ability to collect eggs and rear Hine’s emerald dragonfly larvae, conduct preliminary evaluations of the genetic composition of captive-reared versus wild stock, and develop the protocols and procedures that will be necessary for augmentation or reintroduction of Hine’s emeralds into existing or restored habitat areas in Illinois and other locations. Protocols for successful rearing of Hine’s emerald dragonfly larvae from eggs to adult emergence have been developed by Dr. Dan Soluk’s lab at the University of South Dakota over the last 5 to 7 years. As a result, we are now able to extract eggs from female Hine’s emerald dragonflies in field, hatch them and rear them with up to 50 percent rates of survival. In the field survival rates of eggs to mature larvae are likely less than 1 percent. So, the advantage of captive rearing dragonflies is that they will have a greater chance of survival to reproduction which may provide a buffer against local extinction events or possibly allow the population to increase in size. Given that the size of the entire Illinois population is estimated to be within the range of 87 to 287 adults, activities such as population augmentation and head-starting may be increasingly essential if the Illinois population is to remain viable. Captive-reared individuals can also be used to conduct crucial studies. Captive-reared larvae are being used for evaluations of herbicide toxicity, quality assessment for created/restored habitat, genetic structuring of populations and various other life history and ecological studies.

Contact Info: Kristopher Lah, (847) 381-2253 ext.15, Kristopher_Lah@fws.gov