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Acceptance of Odonata Records

A number of considerations can affect the reliability and acceptability of a record including the ease with which the species in question can be identified, the demonstrated competence of the observer in making identifications, and whether or not that species was expected in that part of the state. A voucher specimen is the "gold standard" for exceptional records (newly described species, new state record species, or significant range extensions). Close-up photographs are sufficient to confirm records of most species, and sight records are sufficient for easily identifiable species when made by skilled observers. The rule of thumb is that rare or unusual records require greater verification than more common records (exceptional records require exceptional verification).

A voucher specimen with an accurate date/location label is always the preferred standard for exceptional records:
  • Depending on species, an adult may be preferred to an exuviae or nymph.
  • In cases of highly exceptional records (i.e. a new state record or new species to science), additional documentation is desired such as locating a breeding population and collecting vouchers of more than one life stage with accurate date/location labels
Considerations that affect acceptance of photographic or sight records include:
  • The demonstrated competence of the observer.
  • The certainty with which the species can be identified without microscopic examination.
  • The extent to which the record is exceptional.
Thus, a sight record for a new county record of a common species is acceptable if:
  • The species is easy to identify on the wing or in the hand.
  • The competence of the observer can be demonstrated.
  • The species was expected in that county (i.e. the record is not exceptional).
When in doubt, take a photograph!
Before submitting an observation to WOS, please do all that you can to avoid making misidentifications. If you have doubts about the identity of a species, take multiple photographs to show to others, or even collect the specimen. If doubts remain, don't record it. All verified records submitted through WOS will be entered into a statewide database that is used to provide information to support rarity status assessments and give management guidance for property protection.
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