Why do bugs perish? Range size and local vulnerability traits as surrogates of Odonata extinction risk

Maya Rocha-Ortega, Pilar Rodríguez, Jason Bried, John Abbott, Alex Córdoba-Aguilar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite claims of an insect decline worldwide, our understanding of extinction risk in insects is incomplete. Using bionomic data of all odonate (603 dragonflies and damselflies) North American species, we assessed (i) regional extinction risk and whether this is related to local extirpation; (ii) whether these two patterns are similar altitudinally and latitudinally; and (iii) the areas of conservation concern. We used geographic range size as a predictor of regional extinction risk and body size, thermal limits and habitat association as predictors of local extirpation. We found that (i) greater regional extinction risk is related to narrow thermal limits, lotic habitat use and large body size (this in damselflies but not dragonflies); (ii) southern species are more climate tolerant but with more limited geographic range size than northern species; and (iii) two priority areas for odonate conservation are the cold temperate to sub-boreal northeastern USA and the transversal neo-volcanic system. Our approach can be used to estimate insect extinction risk as it compensates for the lack of abundance data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20192645
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1924
StatePublished - Apr 8 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Extinction
  • Insect
  • Local vulnerability
  • North America
  • Odonata
  • Range size

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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