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Transcript of the interview with the Dragonfly Team

This transcript is based on the video interview with JCU students taking on the role of   Dragonfly experts. It is part of a project conducted by James Cook University’s School of Education, Terrain Natural Resource Management and the Cairns Regional Council to introduce the community to the Smithfield Cattana Wetlands. Community members can use material from the website for education for sustainability, and to promote conservation science. This transcript can be used as a learning activity before or after a visit to the wetlands, to support viewing the video of the interview. Other activities are on http://cattanawetlands.terrain.org.au

What sort of insect is a Dragonfly?

  • A dragonfly is a macroinvertebrate which is an insect without a backbone but big enough to see without a microscope. 
  • According to the CSIRO, there are 324 different dragonfly species in Australia, with over half of those species found in North Queensland.

Where does the Dragonfly live?

  • The dragonfly lays its eggs and its young, the nymphs, live in the water.  Therefore, an area such as the Cattana Wetlands would be an ideal spot for breeding and living.

What is the life cycle of a Dragonfly?

  • The dragonfly has 3 stages in its lifecycle. The female adult dragonfly lays her eggs either in or around the water.  In about 2 weeks, the eggs hatch, and out come the small baby dragonflies, which are also called nymphs. The nymphs live in the water and they are born with tiny wings and a big bottom lip to help them catch their food. When they grow older they leave the water and they shed their skin, in a process called molting and these are the dragonflies that you normally see around rivers and wetlands. 

What does a dragonfly eat?

  • The adult dragonfly will eat other flying insects such as flies, beetles and mosquitoes.  The nymphs will eat tadpoles, small fish and other insect larvae such as mosquito larvae.

What eats the dragonfly?

  • The main predators of dragonflies are birds, big fish and frogs.

Why are the Cattana Wetlands important to dragonflies?

  • Wetlands, as ecosystems contain a lot of biodiversity.  In the wetlands, dragonflies eat the larvae of a number of other flying insects and in this way they contribute to keeping the biodiversity in the wetlands in balance.   The wetlands are also important to the dragonflies as the dragonflies live a large part of their lifecycle in & around the water.  The wetlands also provide an abundant food source for the dragonflies.

What scientific role can dragonflies play in the Cattana Wetlands?

  • Dragonflies are an example of what is known as an indicator species.  They can tell us a lot about the quality of water in a location.  So, for example, if the dragonflies are abundant that can tell us that the water is clean.   If dragonflies are absent in or around a wetlands environment, that can indicate that there is water pollution or that the water is not healthy.