Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ode Guide for Newbs Like Me! - 15 Apr 2012

Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East
Dennis Paulson

Paper | 2011 | $29.95 / £19.95 | ISBN: 9780691122830
Cloth | 2011 | $85.00 / £59.00 | ISBN: 9780691122823
576 pp. | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | 675 color photos. 350 line illus. 333 maps.

eBook | 2011 | $29.95 | ISBN: 9781400839667

Shopping Cart | Reviews
Introduction [PDF] | Table of Contents [PDF]

When it comes to identifying dragonflies and damselflies I'm definitely a newb.  I've been enjoying chasing and photographing odes for the past several years, as it is a great diversion when the birding gets slow.  I know nothing of taxonomy of these insects, so I have to take a totally random approach to trying to identify them.  My approach? Search for online dragonfly photos and scroll through dozens of images with the hope that I might find something similar.  I would then Google the potential ode to see if it indeed is a match, and to see if its distribution is in my area.

Now, thanks to Dennis Pauson and Princeton University Press, there's a new photographic guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East.  This is the companion guide to Paulson's Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West. At almost 600 pages its a dense field guide that may be best left at home (unless you are a serious ode-chaser). But it covers all 336 spp. of eastern odes, and includes detailed species accounts for each.  Most important (for me) is that 'similar' species are included with each account, so the odds of a correct identification improves dramatically.

The Introduction is 47 pages long, and includes detailed information about taxonomy, anatomy, biology, and how to identify, photograph, collect and submit records to local databases.

Ebony Jewelwing male -
Emmet Co., MI , June 2010
Damselflies are covered first, with detailed specie accounts for Jewelwings, Rubyspots, Spreadwings, Bluets, Forktails, etc.  At the end of each section are detailed drawings of appendages and other anatomical features that help separate species w/in each Genus.

Blue Dasher male -
Monroe Co., MI, July 2010
The bulk of the rest of the guide is devoted to Dragonflies: Petaltails, Darners, Clubtails, Dragonhunters, Ringtails, Snaketails, Spiketails, Cruisers, Emeralds, and so on. Again, with each section are line drawings depicting appendages and other features that help distinguish individual species.  Some reviewers have suggested that additional drawings (abdomen patterns) would be useful, but I can't comment here.  For a more thorough review check out the review at Urban Dragon Hunters.  Additional resources / publications are listed in the Appendix.

I'm going to enjoy this guide, and will be able to make great use of it this season.  Already the first Darners are appearing in the area, so get a copy of this guide, get out in the field and enjoy!

Thanks to Jessica Pellien and Princeton University Press for a review copy.

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