The Michigan Odonata Survey (MOS) was formed in 1996 by Mark O’Brien, then insect collections manager at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology (UMMZ) along with Ethan Bright and Michael Kielb. Within a few years, they were joined by Julie Craves and her husband Darrin O’Brien (see below for bios). The goal of the MOS was to provide a better understanding of the distribution, biology, and taxonomy of the Michigan Odonata fauna.

The UMMZ has one of the largest collections of Odonata in the world, which helped form the basis of the MOS. Records from other collections were incorporated, and as of the end of 2017, the MOS database has grown to include 30,000 specimen records from the state of Michigan dating back to the late 1800s.

Current status
Mark retired from the UMMZ at the end of 2017, and decided to pursue interests other than entomology. He moved out of state in 2019, and all the MOS material was passed to Julie and Darrin, who have been active MOS participants for nearly 20 years (see their blog, Urban Dragon Hunters, for many posts on their Odonata activities and a list of their publications).

There is a mountain of material to go through. The Michigan Odonata Atlas, as originally envisioned, is unlikely to become a reality, but the goal is to organize the material and produce a baseline document on the distribution and status of Michigan’s dragonflies and damselflies for future workers to build upon.

We ask for your patience while we go through this material and determine how to best present it. We have to rely on our personal resources to see this through.

More about us

JULIE CRAVES is an ecologist and science writer. She founded the Rouge River Bird Observatory at the University of Michigan-Dearborn in 1992. She spent her career there studying aspects of urban ecology, especially the resilience of urban ecosystems and the interactions of native and non-native species, particularly plants, birds, and insects. She retired in 2018 but remains associated with the University as a visiting scientist. Her research, including papers on Odonata and other insects, is available at ResearchGate, and her writing, consulting, and other professional work can be found at her website, Field Marks.

DARRIN O’BRIEN is an engineer by trade, but an excellent field ecologist. In addition to being an expert birder and bird bander, Darrin is skilled in identification of a wide variety of insect taxa, especially Odonata. He has co-authored a number of papers with Julie, and is the reviewer of records for the state of Michigan for Odonata Central. He is no relation to Mark O’Brien, much to everyone’s confusion.

Together, Julie and Darrin (who are married) have worked on Michigan Odonata since 2001. They have found 6 new state records, and vouchered 52 new species of Odonata for highly urbanized Wayne County. They have also done dragonfly surveys in Latin America including in Cuba, Panama, Nicaragua, and Honduras. They live outside of Ann Arbor, MI with their two indoor cats that are also enthusiastic insect hunters — if any get in the house.

Contact us here.