Michael Moore's Research on Dragonflies and Climate Change Published by National Academy of Sciences

Published: Feb. 19, 2024

Research by Michael Moore (Assistant Professor in Integrative Biology), along with two CU Denver students, is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesPNAS selected it as an article they will be promoting to the press. Here is Dr. Moore's summary of the article:

"Species require special traits to mate in hot and stressful environments, and species without these mating traits are especially vulnerable to climate change, a study finds. Biologists have long understood that species can only start using new habitats after they evolve novel traits that help them grow and survive there. A new study in North American dragonflies by Michael Moore and colleagues shows that where species exist now, and where they might be able to persist in the future, is also determined by whether or not they have traits that help them mate in those new climates. The authors studied an unusual hydrophobic, UV reflective wax ('pruinescence') that male dragonflies produce, which prevents males from overheating and drying out when they try to attract mates at sunlit ponds. The authors show that species without this wax are unable to use warmer and drier parts of their current habitat for mating, and they are also prevented from migrating into warmer and drier parts of North America overall. The authors further show that species without this wax have been far more likely to go extinct in regions of the United States where the climate has gotten warmer and drier. These results suggest that where a species can exist is actually just as dependent on whether it is physiologically capable of mating there as whether it can survive there."