It's amazing to think that 2015 ended up as being one of the wettest years on record, considering we had hardly any rainfall in the first six months which led to usually shallow ponds being devoid of any water whatsoever when the first damsels and dragons should have been emerging, and this combined with the cold nights right through to July, would have the effect of either killing off many aquatic larvae or at least retarding their growth through lack of available food through abnormally cold water temperatures, with the cold water not being particularly conducive to emergence anyway.
Now I know one of the most consistent things about British weather is its inconsistency, no two consecutive summers are the same, so there's a good chance this year will be better altogether (fingers crossed), but what of the changing climate? It's well documented the world as a whole is changing, and whether you believe it to be man made or just the natural cycle there is no doubt the planet is heating up. So what does climate change actually mean for the future of our Dragons and Damsels?
It was interesting reading (as is the book) with so many detailed factors taken into consideration but the conclusion was pretty much inconclusive, so no startling scare-mongering headlines on climate change for the Daily Mail to exploit (not that it would stop them).
Being a bit thick, I had to read it with the aid of a dictionary to semi-understand what they were on about but I did learn some new dragon-jargon in the way of science mumbo-jumbo, my favourites being :
Biotic homogenization- the process by which species invasions and extinctions increase the genetic, taxonomic or functional similarity of two or more locations over a specified time interval.
All good stuff, buthere’s a summary of some of their findings in terms I can understand myself :
I remember as a lad there were pitheads visible in all directions as you travelled through the northeast and we used to play on the slagheaps which are now parks and nature reserves, so it stands to reason that dragonflies among other wildlife would benefit greatly from this and start to spread into previously uninhabited areas.
I photographed this one as a migrant at Kibblesworth in 2006, With the change in climate they are become
established breeders in the south of England so how long before we see more of them oop north?
Appears to be one of those species losing out, but a good year for them in Gateshead, with more noted
than ever before late in the season.
So there we have it. Though a large number of dragonfly species have increased their range in the UK between 1980 and 2012, it is as much a response to increased water quality as it is climate change.
And for anyone interested, here's a link to the actual paper I took the info from :