Mediterranean Dragonflies

One fifth of Mediterranean dragonflies and damselflies are threatened with extinction in the Mediterranean, with increasing water scarcity, climate change and habitat degradation being the main factors triggering the degradation of their freshwater habitats


14% out of the 163 dragonfly and damselfly species assessed in this report are endemic (unique) in the Mediterranean region, which highlights the importance for Mediterranean countries to protect the natural richness of these species.

Almost a fifth (19%) of the total species assessed are threatened with extinction (3% are Critically Endangered, 8% are Endangered, and 8% are Vulnerable). 16% are Near Threatened and 6 species are Data Deficient, due to lack of sufficient information to assess their status, but they might also be threatened.

IUCN Med, Mediterranean, dragonflies

Geographical distribution

Threatened dragonflies are found all over the Mediterranean region. However, some areas have a particular high concentration of threatened species, namely the southern Balkans, northeastern Algeria and the Levant with the adjacent southern parts of Turkey.

The highest number of endemic species are found in the Maghreb and in the Levant whereas smaller numbers are found in the southern Balkans, Crete and the Western Mediterranean.

IUCN Med, Mediterranean, Dragonflies, map

Main threats

Habitat degradation and water pollution caused by human activities are currently affecting  97% of the 31 threatened species. In addition, natural disasters involving the disappearance of breeding habitats due to drought have the next biggest impact, affecting  75 of these Mediterranean species.

An example of the effects of habitat degradation due to intensification of agricultural practices is the strong decline of the Spotted Darter (Sympetrum depressiculum), a species that used to be common in the Mediterranenan and is now  Vulnerable according to the IUCN Red List.

Recommendations for conservation

Long-term coordinated actions are needed at regional, national and international level, and the results of this report highlight the responsibility that Mediterranean countries have to protect the global populations. Though some species are already receiving some conservation attention thanks to international laws, such as the Ornate Bluet (Coenagrion ornatum) which is included in the European Habitat Directive, others are not protected at all, despite their high risk of extinction.

UICN Med, Mediterranean, dragonflies