Atlas goldenring (Cordulegaster princeps)

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderOdonata
FamilyCordulegastridae
GenusCordulegaster (1)
SizeMale length: 75 - 86 mm (2)
Female length: 79-87 mm (2)
Male length of abdomen: 56 - 65 mm (2)
Female length of abdomen: 60 - 66 mm (2)
Male hindwing: 45 - 49 mm (2)
Female hindwing: 47 - 53 mm (2)

The Atlas goldenring is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).

Also referred to as spiketails and biddies, golden-ringed dragonflies (Cordulegastridae) are large black dragonflies with generally bright yellow rings more or less encircling their abdomen, depending of the species (2) (3). The Atlas goldenring (Cordulegaster princeps) exhibits wide abdominal yellow rings, possesses conspicuous yellow markings on the thorax and the head and has large green eyes. Males and females are similar in appearance but females are larger (2).

A Moroccan endemic, the Atlas goldenring is scattered across the Middle and High Atlas ranges (1).

The Atlas goldenring is found in and around mountain brooks between 700 and 2,500 metres above sea level (1).

Virtually nothing has been recorded of the Atlas goldenring’s biology and behaviour, but this may be inferred from what is known about C. boltonii, a structurally similar European relative. The eggs hatch three to six weeks after egg deposition and the larval period should last 2 to 3 years, perhaps more at the highest altitudes. It should include 12 to 14 stadia. After metamorphosis and emergence, adults, which are, like other Odonata species, generalised, opportunistic feeders, feed on flying insects. Males don't establish territories but patrol over long distances along river edges, searching for reproductive females, and stand quite often on herbs or branches exposed to the sun. Females are generally hidden and are much more scarcely observed than males. They lay by driving their eggs in the sandy sediments of rivers and brooks through a rhythmic vertical flight, distinctive of golden-ringed dragonflies (4).

The small, fragmented populations of the rare Atlas goldenring are threatened by the growing human population within their range, and the associated overgrazing by livestock, forest destruction, water pollution and water extraction for human use. Further, drying up of brooks is predicted in the future, due to climatic change (global warming) (1).

There are currently no conservation measures targeting the Atlas goldenring, but there is a need to preserve and restore forests, springs and brooks, maintain water quality, and control levels of water harnessing for irrigation (1).

Authenticated (18/12/2006) by Jean-Pierre Boudot, CNRS, Université Henri Poincaré Nancy I, France.

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Dijkstra, K.D.B. and Lewington, R. (2006) Field Guide to the Dragonflies of Britain and Europe. British Wildlife Publishing, Gillingham.
  3. Dragonflies and Damselflies in Languedoc (September, 2006)
    http://www.ghmahoney.org.uk/insects/dflyl_corga.htm
  4. Grand, D. and Boudot, J.P. (2006) Les Libellules de France, Belgique et Luxembourg. Editions Parthénope, Mèze.