Toilet tanks and dragonflies seem to be unlikely bedfellows. However, reality is that water conservation efforts that reduce the volume of water flushed away and prevent wastage through leaking toilet tanks have led to significant reductions in household water consumption in the United States. Less water pumped out of rivers and lakes for household use means more for wildlife.

We think of our blue planet as having abundant water resources, but in reality, the total surface area of the earth covered by fresh water is less than 10 million sq. km, a tiny fraction of the 361 million sq. km covered by the oceans or the 138 million sq. km of dry land. However, that tiny proportion is inhabited by an enormous variety of life forms, including an abundance of invertebrates.

Freshwater invertebrates play key roles in nutrient cycling, substrate mixing, and water clarity and they are an energy-rich food source for fish, birds, amphibians, and mammals. They also have significant economic importance; freshwater crayfish, shrimp, mussels, and crabs are an important part of regional and global fisheries, while breeding and migrating waterfowl that are sustained by the myriad unseen aquatic invertebrates in wetlands generate substantial income via fees and equipment associated with bird watching and hunting.

Over 90,000 species of freshwater invertebrates have been identified worldwide, and as many as 10,000 may already be extinct or imperiled. Much remains to be learned about many species' life history and conservation needs. Xerces has worked to increase knowledge, awareness, and protection for a wide range of freshwater invertebrates, including freshwater mussels, stoneflies, caddisflies, mayflies, dragonflies and damselflies, and snails (see our Aquatic Red List).

Conserving the quantity and quality of both ground and surface waters is one important aspect of protecting and sustaining freshwater invertebrates, which brings us back to toilet tanks. October is National Toilet Tank Repair Month, an excellent reason to consider various ways to reduce water use in and around your house and help reduce pressure on our streams and wetlands. Here are some ways in which you can help make a difference:

Dennis Paulson's eastern and western dragonfly field guides are both available in our store.

Visit our pesticide web page for information on pesticides and  invertebrates, including our report, Ecologically Sound Mosquito Management in Wetlands.

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Check out our events web page for details on Xerces events in the following cities:

  - Portland, OR
  - Eugene, OR
Photo by Celeste Mazzacano/The Xerces Society.

The Xerces Society � 628 NE Broadway, Suite 200, Portland, OR 97232 USA � tel 855.232.6639

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