Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) present an unparalleled insect model to integrate evolutionary genomics with ecology for the study of insect evolution. Key features of Odonata include their ancient phylogenetic position, extensive phenotypic and ecological diversity, several unique evolutionary innovations, ease of study in the wild and usefulness as bioindicators for freshwater ecosystems worldwide. In this review, we synthesize studies on the evolution, ecology and physiology of odonates, highlighting those areas where the integration of ecology with genomics would yield significant insights into the evolutionary processes that would not be gained easily by working on other animal groups. We argue that the unique features of this group combined with their complex life cycle, flight behaviour, diversity in ecological niches and their sensitivity to anthropogenic change make odonates a promising and fruitful taxon for genomics focused research. Future areas of research that deserve increased attention are also briefly outlined.
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