Important insects: Field guide aims to spark interest in dragonflies at East African lakes

Written by Emma Meurs, on 14 December 2021

Can the buzz of dragonflies at the shores of Mabamba Bay in Uganda inspire future naturalists and citizen scientists? A new illustrated field guide that highlights 36 different dragonfly species aims to encourage visitors to East African lakes to observe not just the birds the area is famous for, but also insects.

Biodiversity is in decline, with species going extinct all around us. Dragonflies are no exception. This process is caused by people and urgently needs to be stopped, says IHE Delft’s Dr. John Simaika. Together with Gerhard Diedericks, a specialist in monitoring of aquatic macroinvertebrates as indicators of ecosystem health, John Simaika created the field guide Damselflies and Dragonflies of Mabamba Bay and other sites at Lake Victoria, Uganda as part of a European Union-financed project on using dragonflies to assess wetland health.

Mabamba Bay, a part of the Lake Victoria Basin designated as a Ramsar Wetland Site of international conservation importance, is known for its rich bird populations - so far 190 bird species have been recorded there. The area’s insect life is less well-studied.

“With this field guide, we wanted to draw attention to an important but lesser known component of biodiversity: freshwater insects. Most of them are ignored, with the exception of the comparatively small number of pests and disease-causing freshwater species,” John Simaika said.

Freshwater insects are functionally vital to aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems alike, and play a central role in food webs, maintaining food security.
John Simaika

 

The field guide targets all who are keen to explore and know more about the natural beauty of Mabamba Bay in Uganda, and other nearby Ugandan Lake Victoria sites such as Entebbe Botanical Gardens. Many species found in the guide are found elsewhere in the Lake Victoria Basin, and some in the entire Afrotropical region, something that makes the guide useful across tropical Africa.

“This book should bring joy to those reading and using it, particularly children and their parents, whether at Mabamba Bay, or elsewhere at the shore of an East African lake. I hope the guide will help people, especially youth, experience and learn about nature, thereby inspiring a new generation of naturalists, citizen scientists, scientists and water practitioners,” said John Simaika.

Dragonflies fieldguide

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