Thursday, December 23, 2010

Book Note: Field Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of New Jersey

When I visited Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary a couple weeks ago, I picked up a new odonate guide, Field Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of New Jersey, by Allen E. Barlow, David M. Golden, and Jim Bangma. I was looking for a guide that would cover more of the region's species than the basic Stokes Beginner's Guide to Dragonflies, which only includes the most common ones. I think I found what I wanted in the guide by Barlow et al.

Despite its small size, New Jersey boasts an unusually diverse population of Odonata, thanks to its varied geography. To date, 182 species of damselflies and dragonflies have been identified in the state. Some of these are fairly uncommon within the state, such as northern species that reach their southern limit in the northwest corner of the state and specialties found only in Pine Barrens habitats. All 182 New Jersey species are included in the guide, both in species accounts and in a checklist at the end of the book.

The field guide is printed on heavy glossy paper and spiral-bound. It is too large to fit in a pocket, but it could be carried in a bag. Introductory materials discuss New Jersey's geography, the biology of dragonflies and damselflies, and how to observe and record them. The core of the book are the species accounts, which describe how to identify each species, where and when to find it, and how common each species is within the state. The species plates are in a separate section from the species accounts. Each species plate has at least one photo (usually photos of both males and females), its key identification features, a map showing the counties where it has been recorded, and a timeline showing the months when it is most active. The plates also indicate which species are endangered, threatened, or of species concern.

Unfortunately Field Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies of New Jersey is not available on Amazon. If you would like a copy, you can order it through the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. It is also available in New Jersey Audubon centers and presumably at other wildlife-oriented stores in the state.