The breeding grounds of odonates are freshwater wetland ecosystems which include lotic ecosystems like rivers, streams and lentic ecosystems like lakes, ponds, marshes, swamps and paddy fields. Some odonates even use water-filled tree holes (phytotelmata) as their breeding grounds.

Vegetation and its characteristics including submerged, floating, emergent, or waterside are also important. Some odonates require emergent or waterside plants to use as perches. Most damselflies and darners need submerged or floating plants on which to lay their eggs. 

Swamps and other wetlands have traditionally held a very low property value compared to fields. So people often drained swamps next to their fields so as to gain more usable land for human activities. But according to Ramsar Convention, “wetlands are indispensable for the countless benefits that they provide humanity, ranging from freshwater supply, food and building materials, and biodiversity, to flood control, groundwater recharge, and climate change mitigation.”

Yet study after study demonstrates that wetland area and quality continue to decline in most regions of the world. As a result, the ecosystem services that wetlands provide to people are compromised. Major threats include overexploitation, water pollution, flow modification, destruction or degradation of habitat, and invasion by exotic species. Common chemical stresses on freshwater ecosystem health include acidification, eutrophication and copper and pesticide contamination.