Dragonflies and their cousins, damselflies (order Odonata), are some of the oldest insects that are still alive today. But despite their ubiquitous nature and broad public appeal, many mysteries remain about dragonfly and damselfly ecology, behavior, and evolutionary history.
To help in that effort, the National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded $2.25 million to five institutions to study the long evolution of dragonflies and damselflies.
We have named the project GEODE (Genealogy & Ecology of Odonata) and will be collecting and analyze data on the evolutionary relationships, ecological niches, and geographic locations for the approximately 6,200 species of known living and extinct dragonflies and damselflies.
The data will then be used to study which factors drove the diversification of this group over the last 300 million years, including mobility, habitat, niche, color, and distribution.
The four-year grant is awarded by the NSF’s Division of Environmental Biology to Drs. Seth Bybee (BYU), John Abbott (UA), Paul Frandsen (BYU), Rob Guralnick (UF), Vincent Kalkman (Naturalis) and Jessica Ware (AMNH).