Abstract. 1. The effects of climate change on the distribution of species are typically inferred using bioclimatic envelope models, assuming either no or unrestricted dispersal abilities. Information on species-specific dispersal abilities, especially of animals, is rarely incorporated.
2. We analysed European records of two damselflies and four dragonflies protected by the Habitats Directive of the European Union. In addition to no or unrestricted dispersal scenarios, we considered species-specific dispersal distances based on literature information to improve realism in assessing conservation implications of climate change. The climate model HadCM3 and the emission scenario A2 were applied to project potential changes in occurrence probabilities up to 2035. As modelling algorithms, generalised linear models (GLM) and boosted regression trees (BRT) were used.
3. The species Coenagrion ornatum, Coenagrion mercuriale and Ophiogomphus cecilia are projected to lose range (up to −68%) when incorporating specific dispersal distances, while they are projected to extend their range (up to +23%) in the unrestricted dispersal scenario. Furthermore, suitable climatic conditions tend to decline for Leucorrhinia albifrons and Leucorrhina caudalis (up to −73%), whereas Leucorrhinia pectoralis is projected to gain distribution area (up to +37%) assuming either species-specific or unrestricted dispersal and subsequently successful breeding. Cross-validated model performance (AUC values) ranges between 0.77 and 0.92.
4. The integration of species-specific knowledge about dispersal distances in species distribution models promises to improve estimates of potential range changes and their implications for conservation management. Contrasting model results under different dispersal scenarios highlight the importance of research on species’ ecology including dispersal distances.