1st Edition

Dragonflies at a Biogeographical Crossroads The Odonata of Oklahoma and Complexities Beyond Its Borders

By Brenda D. Smith, Michael A. Patten Copyright 2020
    738 Pages 569 Color & 55 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    738 Pages 569 Color & 55 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    This lavishly illustrated book examines the distribution, ecology, conservation status, and biogeography of 176 species of dragonflies in the southern plains of the United States, where twelve ecoregions converge. The topics discussed, such as phenotypic variation and ecology, are applicable and of interest across the United States and much of north America, and will appeal to researchers and dragonfly enthusiasts alike.

    A series of maps, including a distributional map by specific locality of occurrence, indicate level of documentation and allow the reader to visualize the biogeographical associations of a given species. These maps also encourage citizen scientists to contribute documentation wherever they spend time in the field. Context-driven chapters, including one on the region’s rich paleontological history, blend environmental history and biogeography, giving the book a fresh perspective on the natural world while providing a rich summary of the odonates.

    Dragonflies at a Biographical Crossroads: The Odonata of Oklahoma and Complexities Beyond Its Borders will be sought out by dragonfly researchers and enthusiasts, entomologists, amateur naturalists, paleontologists, conservation biologists, educators, regional historians, and those seeking to meld the disciplines of cultural and environmental history with biology. It will also be readily accessible to the lay public. Dragonflies combine the visually stunning with acrobatic fireworks in ways no other insect can hope to combine.

    Introduction. History of Oklahoma Odonatology. Oklahoma Geography and Habitats. Biogeography of Oklahoma Odonata. The Odonata Fossil History of Oklahoma and the Region. Environmental History of Oklahoma. Conservation of Oklahoma Odonata. Seasonality of Oklahoma Odonata. Introduction to Species Accounts. Species Accounts. Zygoptera – Damselflies. Calopterygidae – Broad-winged Damsels. Lestidae – Spreadwings. Coenagrionidae – Pond Damsels. Anisoptera – Dragonflies. Petaluridae – Petaltails. Aeshnidae – Darners. Gomphidae – Clubtails. Cordulegastridae – Spiketails. Macromiidae – Cruisers. Corduliidae – Emeralds. Libellulidae – Skimmers. Appendices. A. Synonyms, Dubious Records, and Hypothetical Species. B. List of Specimen Collections, Data Sources, and Record Contributors. C. Additional Resources. D. Oklahoma Odonata Species Totals by Era. E. First State Records of Oklahoma Odonata. F. Supplementary Tables. G. Reference Maps. Literature Cited. Endnotes. Index


    Brenda D. Smith has worked with Odonata for over 20 years in the United States and Central America. She is a principal investigator for the Odonata of Oklahoma Project and for various projects investigating odonate species of conservation concern, including acting as chief editor of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas odonate species richness project. A former archaeologist, historian, Native American affairs consultant, and museum registrar and collections manager, she found her true love in biology. She currently is a biogeographer and conservation biologist with the Oklahoma Natural Heritage Inventory dealing with mammals, herpetiles, birds, fish, and various invertebrates, with special focus on tiger beetles and, of course, dragonflies.

    Michael A. Patten has published extensively (nearly 250 scientific publications, including two previous books) on conservation biology, evolutionary ecology, and biogeography. Much of his research has focused on birds, but he has focused increasingly on dragonflies and damselflies over the fifteen years. He and Brenda Smith have conducted both intensive and extensive field surveys for odonates across Oklahoma, amassing over 55,000 records for 176 species.

    This book provides a comprehensive review of the occurrence, abundance, conservation status, temporal trends, and some ecological information about odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) in Oklahoma. It is a new contribution to Odonatology and I learned a lot from it. The book represents the most complete collection of information about odonates in Oklahoma, with some intriguing patterns mentioned in the species accounts that will hopefully spur more research into this fascinating, beautiful, and important group of animals.

    -- Nancy E. McIntyre, Professor & Associate Department Chair, Landscape & Community Ecology, Texas Tech University, USA

    Dragonflies at a Biogeographical Crossroads demonstrates how these extraordinary insects can reveal for us the riches of the physical landscape and the human experience. Far more than a scholarly work about dragonflies, and covering terrain and ideas beyond Oklahoma, this is an almanac of history, ecology and conservation from a state too long dismissed as flat and dusty. Among its dragonflies, you will discover the vast biological diversity of Oklahoma and the state’s rightful place in the geography of America. Let this volume set a high standard for insect discovery in other states and regions.

    -- Bryan Pfeiffer, President of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas, 2018-21

    This book is a fantastic contribution to the field. Not only does it present a great array of new information, it even presents new ways to present the information. I have never seen a book about the flora or fauna of a state that has as much information as this book contains. I paged through it in awe of the scholarship, thoroughness and even imagination expressed in the pages. The occurrence maps are fantastic, better than any I have ever seen, as they combine specimens, photos and sight records in an easily understandable way. The historical aspect of the county maps and all the history related in the text is also unique to this book. As well, it often deals with taxonomic and other questions that far exceed the borders of the state. So many things about this book are unique! Conservation becomes a more and more important feature of our writing about odonates and other organisms, and this book treats that thoroughly. Finally, we need much more published about the natural history of odonates, and the species accounts in this book contain much of interest in that regard.

    -- Dennis R. Paulson, Director Emeritus, Slater Museum of Natural History, USA


    Brenda Smith and Michael Patten have succeeded admirably in completing the most thorough treatment of Dragonflies and Damselflies of any state I have seen. This treatise on the Oklahoma fauna includes a series of rich and interesting introductory chapters followed by detailed accounts of each species in the state. This is an impressive compilation and analysis of an especially diverse state that will be useful to anyone wanting to explore dragonflies and damselflies in Oklahoma.

    -- John C. Abbott, Ph.D., Chief Curator & Director of Museum Research and Collections, University of Alabama Museums, The University of Alabama, USA


    Dragonflies at a Biogeographical Crossroads is a truly unique and engaging book, absolutely indispensable if you are interested in the odonates of Oklahoma but also of great interest to any student or lover of this amazing group of creatures. One of the themes of the book is "beyond," and it certainly exceeds even lofty expectations in that regard: it is beyond a field guide, beyond just Oklahoma, and beyond just a book about dragonflies (here the title is a little misleading as it includes damselflies as well). The chapter on the ancestors of Oklahoma odonata is simply the most complete history on this group I have read, and the other introductory chapters are equally riveting. The species accounts are like complete research papers for each and every species, with life histories, seasonality and incredible range data, packed with more information than is available almost anywhere else. The treatise on Macromia field identification alone makes buying this book worthwhile! This is a book that will, and should, find its way onto the shelf and into the lap of everyone who is interested in this fascinating group of insects.

    -- Giff Beaton, naturalist and author, USA