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Front Zool. 2016 Oct 10;13:46. eCollection 2016.

Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) as a bridge between ecology and evolutionary genomics.

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Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84606 USA.
Departmento de Ecología Evolutiva, Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Apdo, Postal 70-275, Ciudad Universitaria, 04510 Mexico City, Mexico.
Evolutionary Ecology Unit, Department of Biology, Lund University, 223 62 Lund, Sweden.
Bioproduction Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Central 6, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8566 Japan.
Institute of Integrative Biology, Biosciences Building, University of Liverpool, Crown Street, Liverpool, L69 7ZB UK.
Departments of Entomology and Biology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802 USA.
Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, Department of Biology, University of Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.
Department of Biology, Brigham Young University, LSB 4102, Provo, UT 84602 USA.
Division of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University, 6-3, Aoba, Aramaki, Aoba, Sendai, Miyagi 980-8578 Japan.
Department of Ecology, University of Oulu, Oulu, 90014 Finland.
Evolutionary Ecology Unit, Department of Biology, Lund University, 223 62 Lund, Sweden ; Plant and Food Research Limited, Nelson, 7010 New Zealand.


Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) present an unparalleled insect model to integrate evolutionary genomics with ecology for the study of insect evolution. Key features of Odonata include their ancient phylogenetic position, extensive phenotypic and ecological diversity, several unique evolutionary innovations, ease of study in the wild and usefulness as bioindicators for freshwater ecosystems worldwide. In this review, we synthesize studies on the evolution, ecology and physiology of odonates, highlighting those areas where the integration of ecology with genomics would yield significant insights into the evolutionary processes that would not be gained easily by working on other animal groups. We argue that the unique features of this group combined with their complex life cycle, flight behaviour, diversity in ecological niches and their sensitivity to anthropogenic change make odonates a promising and fruitful taxon for genomics focused research. Future areas of research that deserve increased attention are also briefly outlined.


Ancient insects; Climate change; Complex life cycle; Ecological Genomics; Flight; NGS; Naiad; Polymorphism

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