My guest today is Danielle Husband. Danielle (Instagram) is a graduate student studying dragonflies and damselflies at the McIntyre Lab at Texas Tech University. In particular, she is studying the west Texas playas, salinas, and urban catchments, and their suitability for odonates.
Today’s episode is full of great topics. We discuss the importance of wetlands in general, and drill down into the specifics of the semi-arid environment of west Texas. The playas and salinas of west Texas are fascinatingly unique, and also play a critical role in the groundwater system of the Ogallala Aquifer.
The Ogallala Aquifer is one of the largest groundwater sources in the world, and critical for much of the United State’s agriculture. Aquifers are being drawn down throughout the world, and the Ogallala is no exception. Playas and other wetlands and waterways “recharge” these aquifers, but is it enough to offset the extraction? Danielle describes the challenges of recharge and aquifer depletion.
We then dive into Danielle’s primary area of research – odonates. She covers the basics of odonata life history, including some differences between damselflies and dragonflies. And did you know some dragonfly species are migratory? Danielle also describes how she constructed the odonate surveying protocol she uses in her field research, some of the interesting discoveries she has made, and helpful tips for naturalists to find and identify dragonflies.
It was a wide-ranging and fun discussion that I hope you enjoy as much as I did.
Be sure to find Danielle on Instagram, too.
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Links To Topics Discussed
People, Organizations, and Websites
Dragonfly Pond Watch Project – Monitoring program for migratory dragonflies that anyone with regular pond or wetland access can participate in.
Dragonfly Society of the Americas
Golden Gate Raptor Observatory
McIntyre Lab at Texas Tech University
Books and Other Things
IUCN Global Wetland Outlook Report – from 2018
Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West by Dennis Paulson – one of the best field guides I’ve found – a bit large for the field but worth it
Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East by Dennis Paulson – the Eastern USA version of the above
Dragonflies and Damselflies: A Natural History – by Dennis Paulson
Ogallala Blue: Water and Life on the Great Plains – by William Ashworth
Playas of the Great Plains – by Loren Smith (University of Texas Press)
Urban Areas Create Refugia for Odonates in a Semi-Arid Region – by Danielle M. Husband and Nancy E. McIntyre
Note: links to books are affiliate links
Opening – Fearless First by Kevin MacLoed
Closing – Beauty Flow by Kevin MacLoed
Both can be obtained from https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/