1. Previous macrophysiological studies suggested that temperature-driven colour lightness and body size variations strongly influence biogeographical patterns in ectotherms, but whether these trait-environment relationships scale to local assemblages and the extent to which they can be modified by dispersal remains largely unexplored. We test whether the predictions of the thermal melanism hypothesis and the Bergmann’s rule hold for local assemblages. We also assess whether these trait-environment relationships are more important for species adapted to less stable (lentic) habitats, due to their greater dispersal propensity compared to those adapted to stable (lotic) habitats. 2. We quantified the colour lightness and body volume of 99 European dragon- and damselflies (Odonata) and combined these trait information with survey data for 518 local assemblages across Europe. Based on this continent-wide yet spatially explicit dataset, we tested for effects temperature and precipitation on the colour lightness and body volume of local assemblages and assessed differences in their relative importance and strength between lentic and lotic assemblages, while accounting for spatial and phylogenetic autocorrelation. 3. The colour lightness of assemblages of odonates increased and body size decreased with increasing temperature. Trait-environment relationships in the average and phylogenetic predicted component were equally important for assemblages of both habitat types but were stronger in lentic assemblages when accounting for phylogenetic autocorrelation. 4. Our results show that the mechanism underlying colour lightness and body size variations scale to local assemblages, indicating their general importance. These mechanisms were of equal evolutionary significance for lentic and lotic species, but higher dispersal ability seems to enable lentic species to cope better with historical climatic changes. The documented differences between lentic and lotic assemblages also highlight the importance of integrating interactions of thermal adaptations with proxies of the dispersal ability of species into trait-based models, for improving our understanding of climate-driven biological responses.