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Hine's Emerald Dragonfly
Summary of the Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly Critical Habitat Designation
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is designating critical habitat for the Hine’s emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana) in Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The Hine’s emerald dragonfly is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended.
Direct loss of habitat from urban development, new landfills, and new pipelines decreases the area of suitable habitat and can fragment existing dragonfly populations. Quarrying can also destroy Hine’s habitat because this species is closely associated with surface dolomite deposits which have commercial value.
Contamination from landfills, transportation, agriculture, and habitat-altering chemical applications may degrade habitat. The species’ long aquatic larval stage (3 to 5 years) makes it vulnerable to ground and surface water contamination.
Natural succession and encroachment of invasive species negatively impacts the species habitat. Natural succession may result from releases of nutrients and road salt into surface waters or connected groundwater, and invasive species may be introduced through human activities in the habitat.
Increased deposition of sediment harms areas within wetlands where Hine’s emerald dragonflies breed. Activities that may cause excessive sedimentation include livestock grazing, road construction, stream channel alteration, timber harvest, all terrain vehicle use, horseback riding, feral pig grazing, rail lines and other disturbances to the watershed and floodplain.
Alteration of water quantity and quality in wetland systems can impact Hine’s breeding habitat. Activities that change water quality and quantity include groundwater extraction; alteration of surface and subsurface areas within groundwater recharge areas; and release of chemicals, biological pollutants, or heated effluents into the surface water or groundwater recharge area.
Hine’s emerald dragonfly breeding habitat can also be harmed by alteration of channels in wetland systems. Channels within wetlands could be harmed or altered by all terrain vehicle use, horseback riding, feral pigs, channelization, beaver dams, impoundment, road and bridge construction, mining, and loss of emergent vegetation. These activities may lead to changes in water flow velocity, temperature, and quantity.
Activities that fragment habitat are harmful because they affect the ability of adults to forage or disperse to new areas. This, in turn, may result in reduced fitness and genetic exchange within populations as well as direct mortality of individuals. Activities that fragment habitat include road construction, destruction or fill of wetlands, and high-speed railroad and vehicular traffic.
Designation of critical habitat can help focus conservation activities for a listed species by identifying areas that contain the physical and biological features that are essential for the conservation of that species. Also, designation of critical habitat alerts the public as well as land-managing agencies to the importance of these areas, but the Endangered Species Act only imposes additional restrictions on the actions of federal agencies.
When deciding what areas to designate as critical habitat, the Service looks at the physical and biological features that are necessary for the species to survive. These required features are called “primary constituent elements.” Primary constituent elements include space for individual and population growth, and for normal behavior; space for food, water, air, light, minerals, or other nutritional or physiological requirements; cover or shelter; sites for breeding, reproduction, or rearing of offspring; and habitat that is protected from disturbance or is representative of the historic geographical and ecological distributions of a species.
The Critical Habitat Designation for Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly
The essential primary constituent elements for Hine’s emerald dragonfly adults are found in natural plant communities in or near the breeding/larval wetlands that have a sufficient prey base of small insect species. Those natural plant communities include fen, marsh, sedge meadow, dolomite prairie, the fringe (up to 328 feet) of shrubby and forested areas bordering those wetlands and open corridors (non-forested) that adults use for movement and dispersal.
The Service is designating critical habitat within 22 units encompassing approximately 13,221 acres in eight counties in Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Within the critical habitat units, only the areas that contain the primary constituent elements of Hine’s emerald dragonfly habitat are designated as critical habitat. These units occur in the following states and counties:
Improved mapping technology enabled the Service to eliminate homes, roads, airport runways, and other human-made structures as well as lawns, agricultural fields, and closed-canopy forests from the critical habitat units. Mapping is still not precise enough to exclude all such areas so some of these features may remain within the designated areas. However, even if such areas fall within the boundaries of designated critical habitat, they are still not considered actual critical habitat under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act.
The 12 remaining units in Missouri are on private lands; the Service excluded private lands in Missouri because the Missouri Department of Conservation has implemented successful conservation efforts on some of those lands and has plans for implementing further conservation actions on remaining lands. The existing partnerships between the Missouri Department of Conservation and property owners could dissolve current and future conservation efforts that could be negatively impacted if critical habitat were designated. Maintaining those working partnerships is important to recovering the Hine’s emerald dragonfly.
Last updated: July 19, 2016