In a changing world, it is essential to understand how species ranges and phenologies are altered in order to plan for future conservation efforts. Odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) have become popular study organisms for such insect-based climate studies, partly because of an extensive link between their life history and their environment, and partly because their charismatic nature has resulted in a large hobbyist following. While formal scientific records of this taxa may be limited, hobbyist participation offers unprecedented coverage over time and space, making dynamic monitoring more feasible. While citizen science databases, like iNaturalist, can be quite extensive, concerns regarding the accuracy and thoroughness of these public endeavors have arisen. Certain anomalies in the public data, most noticeably a large data gap centered around the central Appalachians, imply that public datasets may be misrepresentative of the ‘true’ presence in that area. To test the accuracy and representativeness of these citizen endeavors, we did extensive ground-truthing across four states in the 2019 summer season. Our results found that citizen records were largely consistent with Odonate patterns recorded in citizen science databases, suggesting these databases were indeed capturing real biological questions, and raising further questions about the observed data gaps.
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