Journal of Threatened Taxa | www.threatenedtaxa.org | 26 June 2022 | 14(6): 21213–21226

ISSN 0974-7907 (Online) | ISSN 0974-7893 (Print) 

https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.7885.14.6.21213-21226

#7885 | Received 17 February 2022 | Final received 01 June 2022 | Finally accepted 15 June 2022

 

 

The dragonflies and damselflies (Insecta: Odonata) of Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary, southern Western Ghats, India

 

Kalesh Sadasivan 1 ,Vinayan P. Nair 2 & K. Abraham Samuel 3

 

1 Greeshmam, BN439, Bapuji Nagar, Medical College Post, Trivandrum, Kerala 695011, India.

2 XV/446 A1, Nethaji Housing Colony, Trichambaram, Taliparamba P.O, Kannur, Kerala 670141, India.

3 Tropical Institute of Ecological Sciences (TIES), Ecological Research Campus, K.K Road, Velloor P.O., Kottayam, Kerala 686501, India.

1–3 TNHS Odonate Research Group (TORG), Travancore Nature History Society (TNHS), MBRRA, Mathrubhumi Road, Vanchiyoor, Trivandrum, Kerala 695035, India.

1 kaleshs2002in@gmail.com (corresponding author), 2 vinayanpnair@gmail.com, 3 abrahamcms@gmail.com

 

 

Abstract: The odonate diversity of Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary, southern Western Ghats (WG) of Kerala state, is discussed in this paper. A total of 181 species belonging to 87 genera and 14 families have been compiled for Kerala and this includes 68 Western Ghats endemics. A total of 116 species of odonates including 33 endemics were recorded for the region. A total of 41 damselflies (Zygoptera) and 75 dragonflies (Anisoptera) were recorded for the sanctuary. Shendurney thus harbours 56.04 % of WG and 64.08 % of the odonate diversity of Kerala. In addition, this includes 48.52% of Kerala and 41.25 % of endemic odonates of Western Ghats. About 29% of all the species recorded for the Shendurney are endemic to WG. With respect to IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, one species is ‘Endangered’, three ‘Vulnerable’, two ‘Near Threatened’, 84 ‘Least Concern’, 20 ‘Data Deficient’, and six species whose IUCN Red List status was not assessed. Family Libellulidae (41 species) dominated the odonate diversity, followed by Coenagrionidae (15 species) and Gomphidae (13 species). Regarding the occurrence status, we found that 11 species were Very Common, 42 species were found to be Common, 34 species Not Rare, 10 species were Rare, and 19 species were Very Rare inside the sanctuary. None of the species listed is protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

 

Keywords: Anisoptera, checklist, endemicity, IUCN Red List, Kerala, Zygoptera.

 

Abbreviations: IUCN—The International Union for Conservation of Nature | RF—Reserve Forest | TIES—Tropical Institute of Ecological Sciences | TNHS—Travancore Nature History Society | TORG—TNHS Odonate Research Group | TR—Tiger Reserve | WG—Western Ghats | WS—Wildlife Sanctuary.

 

Editor: K.A. Subramanian, Zoological Survey of India, Chennai, India.         Date of publication: 26 June 2022 (online & print)

 

Citation: Sadasivan, K., V.P. Nair & K.A. Samuel (2022). The dragonflies and damselflies (Insecta: Odonata) of Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary, southern Western Ghats, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 14(6): 21213–21226. https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.7885.14.6.21213-21226

 

Copyright: © Sadasivan et al. 2022. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.  JoTT allows unrestricted use, reproduction, and distribution of this article in any medium by providing adequate credit to the author(s) and the source of publication.

 

Funding: None.

 

Competing interests: The authors declare no competing interests.

 

Author details: Kalesh Sadasivan—A Plastic Surgeon by profession and a naturalist by passion, from Kerala. Founder member and research associate of Travancore Nature History Society (TNHS), an NGO based in Trivandrum since 2010. A wildlife photographer and a taxonomist with specific interest in invertebrates.  Vinayan P Nair—Zoology teacher at Government Vocational Higher Secondary School, Payyoli, Kozhikode and Research Associate at Travancore Nature History Society (TNHS), Trivandrum , Kerala. Currently involved in studying taxonomy of odonates of Western Ghats. Apart from odonates he has specific interests in moths, butterflies, ants, mantids and wasps. Abraham Samuel—Retired Zoology Professor, Research Associate of Travancore Nature History Society (TNHS) working on odonates of Kerala. Founder member of TIES, Research Institute, Kottayam.

 

Author contributions: KS planned and executed the fieldwork and surveys, laid the concept and wrote the manuscript. VPN edited the drafts and did fieldwork. AS helped with the drafts and fieldwork.

 

Acknowledgements: The authors wish to thank Shendurney WS, Kerala Forest Department for the permission for the surveys and research permits. We thank Manoj V. Nair, K.A. Subramanian, and M. Jafer Palot for their encouragement to publish data from long years of fieldwork. The authors would like to thank members of TNHS, Trivandrum, for their field assistance and support for the work. The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback. AS wishes to thank the TIES Kottayam and TNHS Trivandrum for their help during the surveys for odonates.

 

 

Introduction

 

The Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary (8.80–8.95 N, 77.07–77.27 E), with an area of 171 km2 is located in the northern aspect of the Agasthyamalai hills of the southern Western Ghats and lies in the catchment of the Parappar Dam (Thenmalai) constructed across the west-flowing Kallada River (Image 1). The Achankovil gap separates this region from the Pandalam hills, which is the southernmost extension of the Annamalai Hills Complex. The Kuttalam (Courtallam) reserve forest lies to the north-east of the sanctuary. The state boundary of Kerala with Tamil Nadu delineates its eastern border. On the southeastern side lies the Papanasam RF and Mundanthurai region of the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai TR in Tamil Nadu. The southern boundary lies along the border of the Thiruvananthapuram Forest Division where Kulathupuzha and Yerur RFs lie in contiguity with the sanctuary. A narrow stretch of reserved forest tract of the Paruthipally range separates it from Peppara WS in the south (Nair 1991). Much of the terrain of the region is undulating, with valleys and high hills. The altitude ranges from 100 m at the base of the hill to 1,550 m on top of Alwarkurichi, the highest peak. The weather is hot and humid with 2,500–5,000 mm of rainfall received during both the monsoons (Nair 1991). The temperature varies from 16 °C to 35 °C (Mathew et al. 2004). Most of the region is accessible from strategically located base camps for biodiversity assessments. The Shendurney WS has good floral diversity (Subramanian 1995). The vegetation types found here are the west-coast tropical evergreen, southern hilltop tropical evergreen, west-coast tropical semi-evergreen, and southern subtropical hill forests, southern moist mixed deciduous forests, Ochlandra reed brakes, myristica swamp forest, and grasslands (Chandrashekaran 1962). Shendurney was relatively unexplored as far as odonates were concerned. There are no published papers on the odonate fauna of the sanctuary and the only available literature are the survey reports submitted by the TNHS to Shendurney WS from 2011 to 2021.

 

 

Materials and Methods

 

Eight basecamps at different elevations and habitats were used to assess the odonate diversity of the 171 km2 sanctuary (Image 1). The entire sanctuary was systematically covered by using six base camps; located at Darbhakulam, Idimuzhangan, Kallar, Kattalapara, Pandimotta, Rockwood, Rosemala, and Umayar. Transects were laid considering the location of water bodies at the basecamps. A standard transect length of 3 km, 3 m wide was covered in 3 hours and odonates were documented by a three-member team. Each station was covered using 30 such transects that were analysed for presence or absence data. The paper is based majorly on the field data from monthly visits to Shendurney WS since the year 2000. In addition, the consolidated report of systematic surveys done twice a year (May and December) in the sanctuary from 2010 to 2022 by TNHS, Trivandrum submitted to Shendurney WS, Kerala Forest Department (Sadasivan et al. 2021), was also consulted.

The odonates were field-observed and photographed as far as possible with special consideration to the prothorax and anal appendages. With a valid research permit, few of the confusing species were caught, field-observed under loupe magnification (ZEISS EyeMag Pro 5x450 mm Carl Zeiss Meditec Inc.) and released. Photographs of interesting odonates and dead specimens in the field were taken with Canon EOS 70D DSLR fitted with a 180 mm macro lens and MPE 65 f 2.8 1–5x Lens (Canon Inc., Japan). Photographs of interesting odonates are included (Images 3–6).

The basic taxonomy of odonates follows Fraser (1933, 1934, 1936) and is updated as per Kalkman et al. (2020). The current Odonata checklist and distribution for Kerala follows Subramanian & Babu (2017), Subramanian et al. (2018), Paulson et al. (2021), and Nair et al. (2021). The occurrence status is based on transect data with status as Very Common (VC) if seen in >75% transects, Common (C) if seen in 50­–75%, Not Rare (NR) is seen in 25–25% transects, Rare (R) in a case seen in 5–25%, and Very Rare (VR) is seen in <5% of the transects. The conservation status as per the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is derived from the IUCN site http://www.iucnredlist.org (IUCN 2021). We define the occurrence status of a species as ‘Locally Common’ when it is commonly seen only in a particular location, habitat, station or elevation, but is rare when the transect or distribution data from the whole sanctuary is considered.

 

 

Results and Discussion

 

A total of 116 species of odonates including 32 endemics were recorded for the Shendurney region, while the current checklist of odonates of WG is at 207 species with 80 endemics and that of Kerala state is 181 species (87 genera, 14 families) and 68 WG (Nair et al. 2021) (see Appendix 1). A total of 116 species of odonates including 32 endemics were recorded from Shendurney WS. Rao & Lahiri (1982) recorded 23 species from Silent Valley and New Amarambalam RF; Emiliyamma & Radhakrishnan (2000, 2014) reported 39 species from Parambikukam WS, Mathavan & Miller (1989) had reported 36 species from Periyar TR, Gnanakumar et al. (2012) had reported 55 species from Chimmony WS; Adarsh et al. (2015) gave a checklist of 48 species from Chinnar, and 82 species were observed from Thattaekkad bird sanctuary and its environs by Varghese et al. (2014). Palot & Kiran (2016) reported 93 species from Aaralam WS. Thus, it is to be noted that Shendurney WS has the highest species diversity of odonates amongst protected areas in Kerala state known as of present.

We observed 41 damselflies (Zygoptera) and 75 dragonflies (Anisoptera) from the sanctuary (Figure 1B). Family Libellulidae dominated the odonate diversity with 41 species, it was followed by Coenagrionidae (15 species) and Gomphidae (13 species) (Figure 1B).

The species diversity was highest at Kattalapara (88 species), followed by Darbhakulam (72) and then Umayar (69 species) (Figure 2A). The lowest numbers were at Pandimotta (35 species), but this station had some rare and endemic species (see Appendix I). The sanctuary has a good number of interesting records as stated below. Elattoneura tetrica (Laidlaw, 1917) was recorded from Kattalapara. Vestalis submontana Fraser, 1934, was locally common in the higher reaches of the mountains above 800 m (Image 3A). Euphaea cardinalis (Fraser, 1924) was usually seen confined to small streams of the hills (Image 3F), and Euphaea fraseri (Laidlaw, 1920) was generally restricted to low elevations (Image 3E); though they are occasionally found together after monsoons in low altitudes. Chlorogomphus xanthoptera (Fraser, 1919) is the sole member of Chlorogomphidae and was recorded only at high elevations at Pandimotta (Image 5B). The notable gomphids that were seen in the high elevations were Asiagomphus nilgiricus Laidlaw, 1922 (Image 5F), and Heliogomphus promelas (Selys, 1873), while Acrogomphus fraseri Laidlaw, 1925 (Image 5D), Burmagomphus pyramidalis Laidlaw, 1922, Burmagomphus laidlawi Fraser, 1924 (Image 5E), and Melligomphus acinaces (Laidlaw, 1922) (Image 5C) were generally seen in mid-elevations (500–1,000 m). Orthetrum triangulare triangulare (Selys, 1878) is a locally Common species above 800 m. Three species, Calocypha laidlawi (Fraser, 1924) (Image 3B). Epithemis mariae (Laidlaw, 1915) (Image 6D), and Lyriothemis tricolor Ris, 1919 (Image 6B) were seen in lower elevations. Epithemis mariae and Lyriothemis tricolor were mostly seen around Myristica swamps while the latter was a tree-hole breeder. Lyriothemis males were seen guarding the water-filled tree holes at Kattalapara, Umayar, and Rosemala. Cyclogomphus flavoannulatus Rangnekar, Dharwadkar, Kalesh & Subramanian, 2019 (Image 5H), and Cyclogomphus heterostylus Selys, 1854 were generally seen in the foothills. Pantala flavescens (Fabricius, 1798) was the commonest migratory species, while Anax ephippiger (Burmeister, 1839) was not uncommon at Umayar during the first half of the year, before the south-west monsoon. We observed that the species in the genera Macromia and Idionyx found in Shendurney WS were forest insects. While the former preferred large streams, the latter and Macromidia were confined to smaller streams and rocky edges of large streams. Macromia was represented by M. cingulata Rambur, 1842, M. ellisoni Fraser, 1924 (Image 6F), M. flavocolorata Fraser, 1924 (Image 6E), and M. irata Fraser, 1924 (Image 6C). The distribution of M. irata was interesting in the fact that it was observed foraging on the edges of Myristica swamps, while others were riverine insects preferring open waters. Six species of Idionyx are seen in the sanctuary. Of them, I. saffronata Fraser, 1924 and I. travancorensis Fraser, 1931, are the commonest and seen in huge swarms in clearings on hills hawking insects at dusk. I. galeata Fraser, 1924, I. corona Fraser, 1921 (Image 6G), and I. minima Fraser, 1931 are much rarer compared to the others in our observation. I. gomantakensis Subramanian et al., 2013 (Image 6H), was seen in the vicinity of Myristica swamps at Kattalapara. Macromidia donaldi donaldi (Fraser, 1924) is a low to mid-elevation species seen at the edges of large streams. Lestes concinnus Hagen in Selys, 1862 is occasionally seen in the low elevations of Umayar and Kattalapara. Protosticta cyanofemora Joshi et al., 2020 (Image 4E), and Protosticta rufostigma Kimmins, 1958 (Image 4C) were recorded above 800 m from Pandimotta. Indosticta deccanensis Laidlaw, 1915 (Image 4B), was recorded from Darbhakulam and Rockwood.

 

Occurrence Status

Regarding the occurrence status, we found that according to our working definition, 11 species were Very Common, 42 species were found to be Common, 34 species Not Rare, 10 species were Rare and 19 species were Very Rare (Figure 2A). The most common species seen in the region with respect to numbers were Pantala flavescens (Fabricius, 1798), Brachythemis contaminata (Fabricius, 1793), Ceriagrion coromandelianum (Fabricius, 1798), and Diplacodes trivialis (Rambur, 1842). The rarest of the species were Idionyx galeata, Protosticta cyanofemora, Cyclogomphus flavoannulatus, Epophthalmia frontalis binocellata Fraser, 1936, and Idionyx gomantakensis.

 

Endemic Status

We found 33 species from the Shendurney region which were strictly endemic to Western Ghats (Table 2). Thus, about 29 percent of the odonates of the Shendurney are Western Ghats endemics (Figure 12C).

Status as per IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

With respect to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, there was one ‘Endangered’ species, three ‘Vulnerable’, two ‘Near Threatened’, 84 ‘Least Concern’, 20 ‘Data Deficient’, and six species whose IUCN status was not available (Figure 2C). Idionyx galeata, reported from Pandimotta is an Endangered and very rare dragonfly. Heliogomphus promelas is a Near Threatened and rare gomphid that was recorded in the montane swamps of subtropical jungles at 1,200 m from Pandimotta. Indothemis carnatica another Near Threatened species was seen at Kattalapara. Three species are under the Vulnerable category – Indosticta deccanensis, Protosticta sanguinostigma Fraser, 1922 (Image 4F), and Chlorogomphus xanthoptera. Six species whose status needs to be assessed are Protosticta cyanofemora, Paplopleura sexmaculata (Fabricius, 1787), Idionyx gomantakensis, Vestalis submontana, Cyclogomphus flavoannulatus, and Merogomphus tamaracherriensis Fraser, 1931 (Image 5G).

 

 

Conclusion

 

Shendurney WS has the highest number of species reported for any protected area in Kerala especially considering the small area of 171 km2. The odonate fauna of Shendurney is rich and harbours 56.04% of WG and 64.08% of the odonate diversity of Kerala. In addition, this includes 48.52% of Kerala and 41.25% of endemic odonates of Western Ghats. About 29% of all the odonates recorded from Shendurney are endemic to WG. None of the species is protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972. Myristica swamps of Kattalapara and Umayar and the subtropical hill forests of Pandimotta are unique habitats harbouring endemic and rare odonates. Seasonal changes in odonate diversity and population dynamics with respect to the monsoons need to be elucidated with further studies.

 

Table 1. Details of base camps selected for the assessment in Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary.

 

Station

Elevation (m)

Major habitat/forest types

1

Darbhakulam

200–800

West-coast tropical evergreen, tropical semi-evergreen, Ochlandra reed patches, riparian forests, secondary forests, and cultivation

2

Idimuzhangan

100–250

West-coast tropical evergreen, southern moist mixed deciduous, Ochlandrareed patches, riparian vegetation, Myristica swamps, secondary forests, Ochlandrareed patches, and plantations

3

Kattalapara

100–500

West-coast tropical evergreen forest, west-coast semi-evergreen forest, moist mixed deciduous forest, Myristica swamp, Ochlandra patches

4

Kallar

500–1000

West-coast tropical evergreen forest, west-coast semi-evergreen forest, monoculture plantation, southern hilltop tropical evergreen forest, Ochlandra patches

5

Pandimotta

1000–1500

Southern hilltop tropical evergreen forest, southern sub-tropical hill forest, Ochlandra brakes

6

Rockwood

250–600

West-coast tropical evergreen, tropical semi-evergreen, and abandoned plantations

7

Rosemala

100–600

West-coast tropical evergreen, tropical semi-evergreen, Ochlandra reed patches, riparian forests, secondary forests, and cultivation

8

Umayar

100–500

West-coast tropical evergreen, tropical semi-evergreen, secondary forests, Ochlandra reed patches, and riparian patches

 

 

Table 2. Endemic odonates of the Western Ghats, reported from Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary.

 

Family

Scientific name

1

Chlorocyphidae

Calocypha laidlawi (Fraser, 1924)

2

Coenagrionidae

Aciagrion approximans krishna Fraser, 1921*

3

Coenagrionidae

Agriocnemis keralensis Peters, 1981

4

Coenagrionidae

Pseudagrion indicum Fraser, 1924

5

Euphaeidae

Euphaea cardinalis (Fraser, 1924)

6

Euphaeidae

Euphaea fraseri (Laidlaw, 1920)

7

Platycnemididae

Caconeura risi (Fraser, 1931)

8

Platycnemididae

Elattoneura tetrica (Laidlaw, 1917)

9

Platycnemididae

Esme mudiensis Fraser, 1931

10

Platystictidae

Indosticta deccanensis Laidlaw, 1915

11

Platystictidae

Protosticta cyanofemora Joshi, Subramanian, Babu & Kunte, 2020

12

Platystictidae

Protosticta gravelyi Laidlaw, 1915

13

Platystictidae

Protosticta rufostigma Kimmins, 1958

14

Platystictidae

Protosticta sanguinostigma Fraser, 1922

15

Chlorogomphidae

Chlorogomphus xanthoptera (Fraser, 1919)

16

Gomphidae

Acrogomphus fraseri Laidlaw, 1925

17

Gomphidae

Asiagomphus nilgiricus Laidlaw, 1922

18

Gomphidae

Burmagomphus pyramidalis Laidlaw, 1922

19

Gomphidae

Cyclogomphus flavoannulatus Rangnekar, Dharwadkar, Kalesh & Subramanian, 2019

20

Gomphidae

Gomphidia kodaguensis Fraser, 1923

21

Gomphidae

Macrogomphus wynaadicus Fraser, 1924

22

Gomphidae

Merogomphus tamaracherriensis Fraser, 1931

23

Gomphidae

Melligomphus acinaces (Laidlaw, 1922)

24

Libellulidae

Epithemis mariae (Laidlaw, 1915)

25

Macromiidae

Macromia ellisoni Fraser, 1924

26

Macromiidae

Macromia irata Fraser, 1924

27

Genera insertae sedis

Idionyx corona Fraser, 1921

28

Genera insertae sedis

Idionyx galeata Fraser, 1924

29

Genera insertae sedis

Idionyx minima Fraser, 1931

30

Genera insertae sedis

Idionyx saffronata Fraser, 1924

31

Genera insertae sedis

Idionyx travancorensis Fraser, 1931

32

Genera insertae sedis

Idionyx gomantakensis Subramanian, Rangnekar & Nayak, 2013

33

Genera insertae sedis

Macromidia donaldi donaldi (Fraser, 1924)

*subspecies is endemic to WG (Kalkman et al. 2020).

 

 

For images and figure –click here for PDF

 

 

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