At the start of the survey, we made a considered decision to only allow certain types of records to become part of our database. Basically, these were records for which a physical specimen could be located. We also accepted historically published records where no specimen could be located; this was only done when the author was someone who really knew the Odonata (i.e. Donald Borror), and even then, the record was flagged in the database so it could be included/eliminated from later analysis as needed.
Since those times, several things have changed. The climate for one; we are seeing species in Ohio that haven't been seen before, at least not in a long time. Dragonflies are also becoming a lot more popular with naturalists; a lot of people from outside the academic world are now working with dragonflies and making important contributions. It's getting harder to collect dragonflies as restrictions on collecting are put into place on some public properties. Finally, digital technology has made photographing dragonflies easier than ever, and digital files can be transferred, stored and indexed far easier than slides and prints.
With all these considerations, the Ohio Odonata Society began to accept photo records in 2003. There are a number of guidelines to ensure the scientific integrity of the data collected. First, a committee has been appointed (following the lead of birders, who have been dealing with purely observational data for many years). This committee reviews all submissions to ensure that the photo is a valid record for a species. This means that the quality is high enough to ensure that any diagnostic characters are clear, the view(s) allow the committee to see enough diagnostic characters to positively identify the species, and finally that the species is one that can be reliably identified by photograph alone. This last point is important; there are some species where the taxonomy is in flux, and others that cannot be separated without close, often microscopic examination of such structures as the hamules of a male.
In order to keep from swamping the committee, photo records will only be considered when the record would represent a new county record, a record for a new, significant site within a county even if the species was already known from that county (i.e. for rare species), and for new state records - although the latter will be given especially close scrutiny. Another way of saying this is that if you photograph a common whitetail in Columbus it's not worth submitting to the committee. Likewise, only specimens which have been identified should be submitted; many members of the Society would be glad to help you with identifications.
Once submitted, the committee chair will pool the submissions and circulate them to the members of the committee, who will vote and debate on the records. Currently this happens once per year after the field season. Approved records are forwarded to the database manager, who will add them to the database, with a qualifier that identifies them as photo records. We hope to have results posted on the web.
2015 Photo Records
Photo Records – Results and Call for More!
Larry Rosche, chair of the OOS “Photo Records Committee” recently sent me the final report and list of new photo records approved by the committee during the 2015 year. A small number of these were actually taken in earlier years and just turn in to the committee this year, but most were taken during 2015. While it is still cold out – it will not be all that long before the flight season begins and you can report new county records or unusually early or late records, or even just rare or endangered species records.
The 2015 round ended up with 68 additional records – and all time high. They came in from 19 different photographers – some who had only 1 photo submission, all the way up to 27 records from one individual! Jim Lemon (27 records) and Shane Myers (10 records) led the list, with the next greatest number of records (4 each) from Chad Arment and Kim Doran. Among Jim’s records were 8 from a Champaign County private site known as Michael’s Lakes, and with 5 new records from Cedar Bog Nature Preserve (which has a long history of Odonata study). It all goes to show that you never know when a new record might show up, and the more time you spend afield; the more likely you are to happen upon an important record.
As a note of interest, we now have 372 photo records since the Photo Records Committee was started in 2002/2003. That year we had only 6 total records turned in. The first ten years saw lots of growth, with an average of 25 records per year, and the last three years have averaged 46 records per year. The growth, improvement and accessibility of digital cameras have really added to the relative ease of obtaining such photos, though it is still a huge challenge. Our Ohio database contains a total of 28,702 records (372 from Photos, 363 from only publications, resulting in almost 27,000 represented by specimens held in permanent collections. The database keeps all three types of records identified, so that anyone wishing to analyze only 1 type of record can easily filter them out.
If you obtain a photo record you think might be a valuable addition, send it along with all the data: where taken (even GPS if possible, but county and as much location detail as possible), date, and of course your name (as the photographer) and how you can be reached.
Send the photo and the data to chair Larry Rosche at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The members of the Photo Records Committee (PRC) who put in many hours making difficult calls on the ID include: Ian Adams , Linda Gilbert, Bob Glotzhober Rob Liptak, Shane Myers and, as mentioned, chair Larry Rosche. Special thanks belongs to Larry, who has the huge job of logging in submissions and organizing them for the other members to vote on. For more information about the PRC, and the guidelines used for judging, or a listing of county records (up to 2011 – sorry), go to the OOS web page at http://www.marietta.edu/odonata