Journal of Threatened Taxa | | 26 February 2016 | 8(2): 8503–8517





An observation on the Odonata fauna of the Asansol-Durgapur Industrial Area, Burdwan, West Bengal, India


Amar Kumar Nayak 1 & Utpal Singha Roy 2


1 Searsole Junior Basic School, Searsole Rajbari, Burdwan, West Bengal 713358, India

2 Department of Zoology and PG Department of Conservation Biology, Durgapur Government College, J.N. Avenue, Durgapur, Burdwan, West Bengal 713214, India

1, 2 (corresponding author)





doi: | ZooBank:


Editor: K.A. Subramanian, Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata, India. Date of publication: 26 February 2016 (online & print)


Manuscript details: Ms # 2573=2 | Received 19 November 2015 | Final received 05 February 2016 | Finally accepted 10 February 2016


Citation: Nayak, A.K. & U.S. Roy (2016). An observation on the Odonata fauna of the Asansol-Durgapur Industrial Area, Burdwan, West Bengal, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 8(2): 8503–8517;


Copyright: © Nayak & Roy 2016. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. JoTT allows unrestricted use of this article in any medium, reproduction and distribution by providing adequate credit to the authors and the source of publication.


Funding: This study was supported by University Grants Commission [Minor Research Project, Sanction No. F.No.PSW-013/14-15(ERO), Dated 03.02.2015], New Delhi to the corresponding author (Dr. Utpal Singha Roy).


Conflict of Interest: The authors declare no competing interests.


Acknowledgments: The authors thankfully acknowledge the kind help and cooperation extended by Dr. K.A. Subramanian, Scientist, Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata, Dr. Ashish Tiple, Faculty, Zoology Department, RTM Nagpur University and the members of Dragonfly India group specially Parag Rangnekar, Pankaj Koparde, Shantanu Joshi, Prosenjit Dawn, Arajush Payra and Aaratrik Pal for identification, help and constant motivation. The authors are thankful to Ayan Modal, Anirban Patra, Dr. Suvamoy Changder, Sagar Adhurya, Subhajit Roy and Souvick Mukherjee for their continuous field support during the entire study period. Dr. Utpal Singha Roy thankfully acknowledges the help and cooperation extended by the Director of Public Instruction, Government of West Bengal, Kolkata and Prof. A.K. Pal, Officer-in-charge, Durgapur Government College, West Bengal.




Abstract: The present investigation was undertaken as a pilot study to examine the diversity, occurrence and distribution pattern of dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) from the selected study sites of the Asansol-Durgapur industrial area of Burdwan District of West Bengal, India from January 2012 to December 2015. A combination of direct search and opportunistic sighting methods were applied to record 57 different Odonata species (38 dragonflies and 19 damselflies). Among the dragonflies the most diverse family was Libellulidae represented by 36 species while among damselflies Coenagrionidae was the most diverse family represented by 16 species. In spite of the Asansol-Durgapur region being an industrial urban area, the present study revealed a handsome diversity of odonates. A suitable geographic location, favourable climatic conditions, heterogeneous habitat types that included ponds, wetlands, riverbeds, grasslands and agricultural lands along with the presence of appropriate vegetation provided a comfortable shelter for Odonata species to flourish in this ecoregion. All the odonates noted in the present study belong to the Least Concerned category as designated by IUCN.


Keywords: Abundance, Asansol, Burdwan, damselfly, diversity, dragonfly, Durgapur, habitat types, odonates, West Bengal.



A total of 5,952 species belonging to 652 genera of odonates have been recorded worldwide of which India contributes with 475 species belonging to 142 genera and 18 families (Subramanian 2014; Tiple & Koparde 2015). They are one of the most dominating aquatic (larval stage) and terrestrial (mature stage) insects, flying over ponds, streams, rivers, forest, meadows and crop fields. Odonates have a great economic importance as described by Lt. Col. F.C. Fraser, the father figure of Indian Odonatology in his “The Fauna of British India - Odonata Vol. I” (Fraser 1933). The presence of dragonflies is thought of as an important indicator of ecological stability since they only lay eggs in or around freshwater sources (Corbet 1999). Adult odonates feed on mosquitoes, house flies and other bloodsucking flies and act as an important bio-control agent of these harmful insects (Andrew et al. 2009). Mandal et al. (2008) have reported the efficiency of odonate nymphs in controlling Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito larvae while Faithpraise et al. (2014) have shown that odonates can be effectively used in controlling Anopheles mosquito. They also control other pests that affect crops (Nair 2011). Odonates are considered as good biological indicators of an ecosystem. Ditch Jewel Brachythemis contaminata has been recognized as a good indicator of environmental pollution. A recent study on Odonata ecology from Western Ghats indicate families like Bamboo tails, Reed tails, Glories, Torrent darts, Torrent hawks and Club tails are good indicators of riverine ecosystems (Andrew et al. 2009). Studies on odonate diversity and ecology from West Bengal are on record (Fraser 1933, 1934, 1936; Mitra 2006; Mitra & Mitra 2009). The present study is the first attempt to prepare a checklist of odonates from the Asansol-Durgapur industrial area with an eye to their distribution and seasonal occurrence pattern.



Materials and Methods

Study area

The present study was conducted at 11 different study points of the Asansol-Durgapur area (23053’–22056’N & 88025’–86048’E), an important industrial urban zone of the Burdwan District of West Bengal, India (Fig. 1). Geographically the city is situated at the juxtaposition of two different geographical regions of the Indian subcontinent, i.e., the Lower Gangetic Plain and the Deccan Peninsula. The study area is dotted with a large number of small and heavy industries like the Durgapur Steel Plant, Alloy Steel Plant, Durgapur Thermal Power Station, Durgapur Projects Limited at Durgapur and IISCO Steel Plant, Hindustan Cables Ltd., Burn Standard Co., The Indian Iron and Steel Co. Ltd. at Asansol.

Two famous rivers of West Bengal, Ajay and Damodar rivers, run almost parallel to each other to border the present study location in the north and south directions respectively (Fig. 1). The newly built Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport is under the study site at Andal block. The selection of study sites were made based on the range of habitat types and ease of sampling for the observation of Odonata diversity. The focal points of sampling were - Nehru Park, Burnpur, Raniganj, Andal Aerodrome, villages like Dubchururia, Andal and Gopalmath, Ambuja Wetland, Durgapur and Durgapur Barrage and adjoining wetland areas. Soils of this area are mainly of three types - laterite soil with gravel, silty clayey soil and sandy clayey soil. The primary vegetation of the study area is represented by tropical dry deciduous plants dominated by Shorea robusta (Champion & Seth 1968). A brief description of the geographical location and different habitat types of the individual study sites (S1–S11 (Images 58–68) have been given in Table 1. Much of the areas still remain unexplored so far as the study of biodiversity is concerned. Among the notable studies undertaken in the recent past, Mukherjee et al. (2011) have reported 56 butterfly species during their one-year study period while Pal & Roy (2011) have noted 110 bird species during their two years of study. Pal et al. (2012) have reported nine species of amphibians and 24 species of reptiles during their two years of study from the present study location while Dey et al. (2013) have reported 36 fish species belonging to 14 different families during their six months of study from Durgapur barrage and adjacent wetland areas.








Data collection

A combination of direct search technique (Sutherland 1996) and opportunistic sighting methods were applied during the present study (January 2012 to December 2015) to record odonate diversity and abundance. Observations were made for consecutive four years covering each study site twice a month (a total of 96 samples from each study site) involving different habitat types of odonate colonization. During each sampling, efforts were made to enlist the encounter frequencies of different odonates from different sampling sites. Encounter rates of each species has been represented as A, B, C or D to indicate the most common to the rarest Odonata species based on sighting frequencies. A, B, C and D denoted 75–100 %, 50–74.99%, 25–49.99% and ≤24.99% of sighting from the sites of their occurrence throughout the entire study period respectively. The identification of odonates was done following Fraser (1933, 1934, 1936), Mitra (2006), Subramanian (2005, 2009, 2014) and Nair (2011). CANON Power Shot SX 40 HS digital camera was used for documentation and photographic record of the Odonates.



Results and Discussion

The diversity of odonate species varied widely during the present study both site and season-wise and has been presented in Table 2. Undisturbed areas away from human settlements and direct anthropogenic interventions were favoured by most of the dragonflies and damselflies. The maximum odonate diversity was recorded in the rainy season followed by the summer and winter seasons. A total of 57 different odonate species that involved both dragonflies (Anisoptera) and damselflies (Zygoptera) were recorded during the present study which was represented by 39 genera from seven families (Images 1–57). Among these seven families three were represented by damselflies (Zygoptera), viz., Coenagrionidae (10 species and 7 genera), Lestidae (1 species and 1 genus) and Platycnemididae (2 species and 1 genus) (Table 2). The rest of the four families were represented by dragonflies (Anisoptera), viz., Aeshnidae (2 species and 2 genera), Gomphidae (8 species and 6 genera), Macromiidae (1 species and 1 genus) and the most dominant family Libellulidae (36 species and 19 genera) (Table 2). The present findings of Libellulidae being the most dominant dragonfly family is well supported from previous studies from other geographic locations of India (Arulprakash & Gunathilagaraj 2010; Tiple et al. 2012; Sahoo et al. 2013). The dominance in zygopterans by the Coenagrionidae family could be attributed to the fact that members of this family are the largest among zygopterans and have a wide geographic distribution (Norma-Rashid et al. 2001).

Among the 19 zygopterans two species of coenagrionids were found near the riverbeds of Ajay and Damodar Rivers which were Ischnura nursei and Enallagma parvum. Among the 38 anisopterans recorded in the present study the three most dominant species were Ictinogomphus rapax, Paragomphus lineatus and Epophthalmia vittata (Table 2). The most abundant of damselflies (Zygoptera) were coenagrionids and this group was dominated by Ceriagrion coromandelianum and Agriocnemis pygmaea (Table 2). The well-known bioindicator, Brachythemis contaminata was most abundantly found near human settlements surrounded by polluted ditches and drains. Gynacantha dravida and Zyxomma petiolatum showed the maximum appearances at dusk or night; also they were observed to prefer to rest in old abandoned houses or dense forests. In the rainy season Pantala flavescens and Macrodiplax cora were found in maximum numbers near fresh water bodies. The life cycle of Bradinopyga geminata, well known for its camouflage abilities were observed in an artificial water reservoir during the present study. The most important predator and abundant dragonfly (Anisoptera) recorded during the present study was Orthetrum sabina (Table 2) while the least common damselflies recorded during the present study were Ischnura nursei, Enallagma parvum and Copera marginipes (Table 2). Photographs of recorded odonates are given in images 1–57.





All the dragonflies and damselflies recorded in the present study are classified as Least Concerned as per the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Molur et al. 2011; IUCN 2013).

Although none of the study sites in the present investigation were devoid of anthropogenic disturbance, they varied in their degrees of disturbances and could be grouped under the most disturbed (study sites S6, S8, S9 and S11), moderately disturbed (study sites S2, S5, S7 and S10) and less disturbed (study sites S1, S3 and S4) habitats. What came as no surprise was that the maximum Odonata species diversity was recorded from the less disturbed study sites followed by the moderately disturbed study sites, while the most disturbed study sites contributed to a minimum of Odonata species diversity (Fig. 2). These findings corroborate well with findings made by other researchers who have already reported the negative influence of habitat alteration and disturbances on Odonata diversity (Subramanian 2010; Molur et al. 2011). The present findings are important since these can be used in monitoring ecosystem health, stability and functioning from the present study area. A higher abundance of Brachythemis contaminata in the present study is a clear indication of elevated pollution levels. However, a simultaneous occurrence of species like Ictinogomphus rapax and Paragomphus lineatus are noteworthy and most importantly attests to the presence of some undisturbed and unpolluted water bodies from the present study area. Future investigations covering more study areas will certainly enrich our knowledge and understanding of odonate diversity and ecology.










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