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Intended audience

This course is intended for anyone interested in dragonflies and in contributing to our growing knowledge about dragonfly migration in North America. Whether you are a novice or a pro when it comes to dragonflies, please join us for this fun and informative event to become a volunteer monitor and help us explore the amazing but understudied phenomenon of dragonfly migration!


Alexa Carleton
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
(503) 232-6639



Morning snacks will be provided. Lunch is not included; please bring a sack lunch with you.

When                                                                   September 29, 2012 from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM

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Lake Austin Centre: Brackenridge Field Lab Room 1.202A
3001 Lake Austin Blvd                                      Austin, TX 78703

Driving directions



This Dragonfly Migration Short Course is made possible with the support of the U.S. Forest Service International Programs.

The Migratory Dragonfly Partnership (MDP) is chaired by Scott Black (Xerces Society) and vice-chaired by John Abbott (University of Texas-Austin). The following organizations are MDP partners:  


~ Conservation International ~ Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources ~ Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum ~ Pronatura Veracruz ~ Rutgers University ~ Slater Museum of Natural History, University of Puget Sound ~ Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute ~ Texas Natural Science Center, University of Texas at Austin ~ U.S. Geological Survey ~ Vermont Center for Ecostudies ~ The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation ~


Special thanks to Lake Austin Centre - Brackenridge Field Laboratory for hosting this event!

Photo credit                                                                Painted skimmer (Libellula semifasciata)               By Dennis Paulson


Migratory Dragonfly Short Course 

Austin, TX

September 29, 2012

9:30 am - 4:00 pm

Dragonfly migration is one of the most fascinating events in the insect world, but also one of the least-known. To shed light on this understudied phenomenon, the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership (MDP) is hosting dragonfly migration short courses across North America. The objective of these one-day events is to train participants to identify key migratory species and contribute data to ongoing MDP citizen science projects

Dragonfly migration occurs on every continent except Antarctica. The aptly-named wandering glider (Pantala flavescens), though less famed as a migrant than the monarch butterfly, makes annual flights across the Indian Ocean that are twice the distance of monarch migrations. In North America, migrations are seen annually in late summer and early fall, when thousands to millions of insects stream southward along coasts, lake shores, and mountain ridges from Canada down to Mexico and the West Indies, passing along both coasts of the United States and through the Midwest. Movement back north is less obvious, but we know it occurs because mature adult dragonflies appear early in spring at places where overwintering resident immatures (nymphs) have not yet emerged.

Only about 16 of our 326 dragonfly species in North America are regular migrants, with some making annual seasonal flights while others are more sporadic. The major migratory species in North America are common green darner (Anax junius), wandering glider (Pantala flavescens), spot-winged glider (Pantala hymenaea), black saddlebags (Tramea lacerata), and variegated meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum).

Although it spans three countries and has been documented since the 1880s, North American dragonfly migration is still poorly understood, and much remains to be learned about migratory cues, flight pathways, and the southern limits of overwintering grounds. The MDP is filling this gap by combining research, citizen science, and education and outreach to better understand North America’s migrating dragonflies, and to promote conservation of their wetland habitat.

Migratory Dragonfly Short Courses will educate participants about dragonfly life history, ecology, and migratory behavior, and provide training in MDP project protocols. The courses will include both a morning classroom and afternoon field component, and participants will receive a resource packet with migratory dragonfly publications, fact sheets, protocols, and identification guides. For information on other MDP short courses in North America, visit the Xerces Society Events page (www.xerces.org/events/) to view up-to-date short course information. If you would like to receive announcements about upcoming dragonfly short courses or request one in your area, please email alexa@xerces.org. Be sure to include the following information: name, affiliation, mailing address, phone number, and the state(s) for which you would like to receive announcements.

COURSE AGENDA (times are approximate)

9:30 am – 9:45 am           Welcome and introduction

9:45 am – 10:45 am         Introduction to dragonflies: life history and ecology

10:45 am – 11:30 am        Dragonfly migration

11:30 am – 11:45 am        Break 

11:45 pm – 12:30 pm       Conservation of Dragonflies /  Lunch (bring your own)

12:30 pm – 1:00 pm         Citizen scientists and the MDP: Migration monitoring, Pond  Watch,                                           and the Stable Isotope Project

1:00 pm – 1:10 pm           Break

1:10 pm – 2:00 pm           Dragonfly identification

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm            Field trip: observing and identifying dragonflies                                                                    


John Abbott

John received his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of North Texas in 1999 and shortly thereafter took a faculty position at the University of Texas at Austin.  In 2006 he became Curator of Entomology for the Texas Natural Science Center at UT. John teaches General Entomology and Aquatic Entomology and has led student groups to such exotic locales as Costa Rica, Honduras, the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii and Mexico. His research focuses on aquatic insects, particularly the systematics and biogeography of dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata).  John has authored many papers on aquatic insects and several books on odonates, including Dragonflies and Damselflies of the South-central United States and Damselflies of Texas. John is creator of OdonataCentral (http://www.odonatacentral.org), an interactive database of user-submitted records of odonates from the New World. John also compiles and edits the annual Odonata Survey of Texas atlases and sits on the IUCN (The World Conservation Union) Odonata Specialists Group. He has served as President of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas and is currently Editor-in-Chief.  John is an avid nature photographer whose photographs have appeared in calendars, magazines and books such as Science, Natural History, Smithsonian, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and The Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. His photography website is http://www.abbottnaturephotography.com.


Celeste Mazzacano 

Celeste is the Project Coordinator for the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership, and the Aquatic Program Director at the Xerces Society. She believes strongly in providing the public with knowledge, skills, and motivation to enhance and protect natural resources within their communities, and works to promote conservation of aquatic invertebrates and their habitats. With a Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Minnesota, she has worked for over 16 years in research and education. She has published numerous scientific papers and reports, and recently became Associate Editor of ARGIA, the news journal of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas.


The MDP is composed of dragonfly experts, nongovernmental programs, academic institutions, and federal agencies from the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. Together, we are combining research, citizen science, and education and outreach to better understand North America's migratory dragonflies and promote conservation of their wetland habitat. For information about the MDP, visit http://www.migratorydragonflypartnership.org/ or contact dragonfly@xerces.org.

Once registration closes, please send an email to alexa@xerces.org to be placed on our waiting list.