Kubusi stream damsel (Metacnemis valida)

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Kubusi stream damsel
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Kubusi stream damsel fact file

Kubusi stream damsel description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderOdonata
FamilyPlatycnemididae
GenusMetacnemis (1)

The Kubusi stream damsel is a distinctive and easily recognisable damselfly with widely set eyes, a black and white stripped thorax, and a blue abdomen. The end of each abdominal segment is pigmented black, giving a conspicuous striped appearance.

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Kubusi stream damsel biology

Virtually nothing is known of the Kubusi stream damsel’s reproductive biology, life history patterns or feeding behaviour. Nevertheless, there are general biological characteristics of dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) that are likely to apply. Odonata species start their life as aquatic larvae or nymphs, passing through a series of developmental stages or ‘stadia’ and 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. 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 (2).

There is often fierce competition between males for access to reproductive females, and females typically begin to lay eggs in water immediately after copulation, often guarded by their mate. However, females of some species can store live sperm in their body for a number of days (2).

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Kubusi stream damsel range

This South African endemic was formerly known from a few isolated localities in the Amatola-Winterberg region of the Eastern Cape, but is now restricted to just two sites on the Kabusi River near Stutterheim (1).

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Kubusi stream damsel habitat

The Kubusi stream damsel inhabits shallow, clear, rocky streams (1).

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Kubusi stream damsel status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered

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Kubusi stream damsel threats

This endangered damselfly has disappeared from some of its former range, and is now known from only two sites, which are unprotected and experiencing ongoing habitat loss and degradation (1). Habitat loss is principally the result of cattle farming, but additional threats include alien invasive trees (particularly black wattle Acacia mearnsii) shading out the habitat, pollution of the Kabusi River from domestic washing, and siltation of the stream from cattle trampling the banks (1). Predation by introduced rainbow trout may also pose a threat (1).

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Kubusi stream damsel conservation

A massive national rehabilitation scheme (Working with Water Programme) began in 1995 with the aim of eradicating invasive alien plants in South Africa. The programme has been a fantastic success story, with other dragonflies and damselflies (e.g. harlequin sprite Pseudagrion newtoni) that were presumed to be extinct being rediscovered along river stretches where invasive alien trees were removed and the natural vegetation re-established (3). Thus, continued work by the Working with Water Programme in the removal of alien plants could also help the Kubusi stream damsel recover in a similar way (4). A further important conservation measure advocated is the translocation of this species to a protected area, where it could find safe refuge from the damaging impacts of pollution and cattle farming (1).

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Authentication

Authenticated (12/07/2006) by Professor Michael Samways, Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology and Centre for Agricultural Biodiversity, Stellenbosch University, and Chair of the IUCN/SSC Southern African Invertebrate Specialist Group.
http://academic.sun.ac.za/entomology/,
http://ptrc.npust.edu.tw/IUCN/documents/SG_reports/SouthAfricanInvertebrate_Profile.pdf

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Glossary

Abdomen
In arthropods (crustaceans, insects and arachnids) the abdomen is the hind region of the body, which is usually segmented to a degree (but not visibly in most spiders). In crustacea (e.g. crabs) some of the limbs attach to the abdomen; in insects the limbs are attached to the thorax (the part of the body nearest to the head) and not the abdomen. In vertebrates the abdomen is the part of the body that contains the internal organs (except the heart and lungs).
Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Metamorphosis
An abrupt physical change from the larval to the adult form.
Thorax
Part of the body located near the head in animals. In insects, the three segments between the head and the abdomen, each of which has a pair of legs. In vertebrates the thorax contains the heart and the lungs
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2008)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. O’Toole, C. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Insects and Their Allies. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  3. Samways, M.J., Taylor, S. and Tarboton, W. (2005) Extinction Reprieve Following Alien Removal. Conservation Biology, 19(4): 1329 - 1330.
  4. Beauchemin, K., Slinde, E. and Weimer, P. (2003) Recovery of Biodiversity with Removal of Alien Plants. Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences Newsletter, 1: 3 - 4. Available at:
    http://academic.sun.ac.za/agric/downloads/nuusbriewe/2003/Issue-1-September2003.pdf
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Image credit

Kubusi stream damsel  
Kubusi stream damsel

© Michael Samways / University of Stellenbosch

University of Stellenbosch
Private Bag XI
Matieland
7602
South Africa
Tel: +27 21 808 9111
samways@sun.ac.za
http://www.sun.ac.za/

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