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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Chicago Field Office Completes Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly Five-year Review

Region 3, May 8, 2013
Female Hine's Emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana)
Female Hine's Emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana) - Photo Credit: n/a

The Chicago Field Office completed a five-year review on the federally endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana). The species’ current range includes Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Ontario, Canada. The Hine’s is the only dragonfly on the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. The species waslisted in 1995 and a recovery plan was issued in 2001, which provides detailed information on the recovery criteria (i.e. to be downlisted to threatened and removed from the list) and actions to achieve recovery.

 

A five-year review is a periodic analysis of a species’ status conducted to ensure that the listing classification of a species as threatened or endangered is appropriate. The five-year review is required by section 4(c)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. In addition to reviewing the classification of a species, a five-year review presents an opportunity to track the progress of a species toward recovery and to propose appropriate next steps for its conservation. Information gathered during the review can assist in prioritizing recovery actions and informing regulatory decisions.

The recovery criteria for the Hine’s emerald dragonfly were designed to address the viability of the species through the conservation principles of resiliency and redundancy. The recovery criteria for population distribution and size have not been met, nor have those that address habitat features and protection.


Currently, every population of the Hine’s emerald dragonfly is under stress from threats that are directly and indirectly impacting the species and its habitat. The populations in the southern portion of the range may be experiencing greater magnitude of threats with the Illinois population being the most vulnerable to extirpation of all of the populations. The Illinois population size is estimated to be around 200 adults; it is on a downward trend; it is far from the recovery criteria of 1,500 adults; and, is well below what most research suggests is required to maintain a viable insect population. While the populations in the south are believed to be smaller, there is greater genetic diversity within those populations which makes them extremely important to the survival and recovery of the species. Alternatively, the populations in the northern part of the range are larger, yet have less genetic diversity.

The vulnerability of Hine’s emerald dragonfly populations in the south and the species as a whole, to effects from demographic and genetic stochasticity, may be increasing due to the severity of the threats to the small populations. Demographic stochasticity can cause small populations to vary widely in size. Genetic stochasticity are random changes in a population's genetic makeup that can have deleterious effects on the ability of individuals to survive and reproduce. A drastic reduction in population size can exacerbate the effects of genetic stochasticity, or can lead to the further decline of a population to extirpation. As a population loses individuals, it may lose genetic variation, which may reduce the species’ fitness or ability to cope with environmental change. So while the southern populations may currently contain genetic diversity that may be necessary for the species to survive and adapt in a changing environment, the potential for the southern populations to become extirpated is compounded by several direct and indirect threats and by small population sizes, which compromises the viability of the species rangewide.

Based on the current population status and distribution, and the continuing threats to the species and its habitat, the Hine’s emerald dragonfly continues to be in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, and therefore, continues to meet the definition of an endangered species.

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