Kerala’s damselfly checklist gets a new member

Anamalai Reed-tail, or Protosticta anamalaica.

Anamalai Reed-tail, or Protosticta anamalaica. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The odonates’ checklist of Kerala has now grown to 182 with the discovery of a new damselfly species from the Western Ghats in the Peechi Wildlife Sanctuary in Thrissur.

Three entomologists, Kalesh Sadasivan, Vinayan P. Nair and Abraham Samuel of the Travancore Nature History Society (TNHS), have identified the species, Anamalai Reed-tail (scientific name: Protosticta anamalaica Sadasivan, Nair and Samuel, 2022). The discovery has been published in the Journal of Threatened Taxa.

The tiny insect was first spotted at Ponmudi hills in the Peechi Wildlife Sanctuary that forms part of the Nelliampathies–Anamalais sub-unit of the Munnar landscape in November 2021. The group later spotted the same species from Mankulam, Malakkappara and Edamalakudy. This is the second species belonging to the damselfly genus Protosticta to be described by the TNHS researchers after Ponmudi Reed-tail ( Protosticta ponmudiensis) that was described in 2015 from Ponmudi hills in Thiruvananthapuram.

According to Dr. Sadasivan, the genus Protosticta Sels, 1885, consists of slender-built damselflies commonly known as Reed-tails or Shadow-damsels. They inhabit hill streams in tropical, subtropical and temperate jungles of the Indian subcontinent and south-eastern Asia. In India, they are distributed in the Western Ghats and north-eastern region towards Myanmar.

The genus was described from Sulawesi in Indonesia. The genus has 53 extant species distributed from Pakistan, through the Indian subcontinent to Indo-China and south-eastern Asian islands. There are 15 species of Protosticta in India, among which 12 inhabit the Western Ghats.

The addition of Protosticta anamalaica to the checklist raises the odonata species diversity of the Western Ghats to 208 with 81 endemics. Kerala has 182 species with 69 endemics.

Peechi Wildlife Sanctuary wildlife warden P.M. Prabhu said the discovered species are vulnerable to climate change. It could be seen as a significant indicator species that provides a lead time for action in the case of an environmental emergency.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2022 1:00:16 pm |