Amani flatwing (Amanipodagrion gilliesi)
Classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1).
This damselfly belongs to the Megapodagrionidae family, commonly known as ‘flatwings’ due to their habit of spreading their wings out flat when resting (2). This species has a long, extremely slender abdomen, which is darkly coloured with a conspicuous white tip. The wings are distinctly narrower at their base than at their tip, and the males have a broad brown band close to the wing tips.
Currently known only from the Amani Sigi Forest of the East Usambara Mountains (Eastern Arc Mountains), Tanzania (1). The population appears to be largely confined to a 500 m long stream in the Amani-Sigi Forest Reserve, although a single male has been observed outside of this reserve (1) (3).
Adults occur along clear, fast-running streams that are heavily shaded by closed canopy vegetation (3).
Dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) start their life as aquatic larvae or nymphs, passing through a series of developmental stages or ‘stadia’, undergoing several moults as they grow. This larval period can last anything between three months and ten years, depending upon the species. Before the final moult (emergence), metamorphosis occurs in which the larvae transform into the adult form. After emergence, adults undergo a pre-reproductive phase known as the maturation period, and this is when individuals normally develop their full adult colour (4). Emergence in the Amani flatwing is thought to occur in October and November, and the main reproductive season between December and April (3). Dragonflies and damselflies often exhibit fierce competition between males for access to reproductive females (4).
Odonata usually feed on flying insects and are generalised, opportunistic feeders, often congregating around abundant prey sources such as swarms of termites or near beehives (4).
The Amani flatwing is now critically endangered due to destruction and degradation of its habitat (1). There has been almost complete destruction of low-altitude forest across East Africa, mainly for conversion to agricultural land (3), and the few remaining forests of the Eastern Arc Mountains where this species is found are under considerable pressure (5). While the main, viable subpopulation of Amani flatwings is relatively safe within the Amani-Sigi Forest Reserve, any other subpopulations within the vicinity are either already extinct or on the verge of extinction as a result of human encroachment, forest destruction and water pollution. Even the protected population leads a relatively precarious existence, containing fewer than an estimated 250 mature individuals (1).
The Eastern Arc forests of Tanzania contain many endangered species found nowhere else on Earth, but remain under serious threat from an encroaching human population and are in immediate need of conservation action (5). Fortunately, the stream around which the one remaining viable population lives is protected within a forest reserve in the East Usambara Conservation Area, and is therefore relatively safe from any immediate danger (3). Nevertheless, any changes to this stream could result in the extinction of the species, and it has been advocated that an extensive survey of the whole area is urgently needed to locate any further remaining populations (1).
Authenticated (24/07/2006) by Dr. Viola Clausnitzer, Chair, IUCN/SSC Odonata Specialist Group.
- Metamorphosis: an abrupt physical change from the larval to the adult form.
IUCN Red List (May, 2006)
Brisbane Insects and Spiders (June, 2006)
- Clausnitzer, V. (2003) Rediscovery of Amanipodagrion gilliesi, with notes on habitat, behaviour and conservation (Odonata: Megapodagrionidae). International Journal of Odonatology, 6(1): 1 - 8.
- O’Toole, C. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Insects and Their Allies. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Clausnitzer, V. (2004) Critical species of Odonata in eastern Africa. International Journal of Odonatology, 7(2): 189 - 206.