Sinai hooktail (Paragomphus sinaiticus)

loading
Sinai hooktail close up of face
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Sinai hooktail fact file

Sinai hooktail description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderOdonata
FamilyGomphidae
GenusParagomphus (1)

Like other dragonflies in the family Gomphidae, the abdomen of the male Sinai hooktail (Paragomphus sinaiticus) has a characteristically enlarged tip, which in this species takes the form of an orange, hooked appendage (2) (3). The Sinai hooktail is varying shades of dull, greyish-brown and black, providing excellent camouflage on rock perches (2).

This dragonfly is similar in appearance to the green hooktail (Paragomphus genei), although the Sinai hooktail is somewhat less colourful (2). Members of the Gomphidae family can be identified by their small, widely separated eyes, and usually green or yellow abdomen with black stripes (4).

Synonyms
Mesogomphus sinaiticus.
Top

Sinai hooktail biology

The Sinai hooktail returns to its place of emergence to mate. The male arrives first, and establishes a territory containing areas suitable for mating and laying eggs (3). The male Sinai hooktail will usually perch close to running water, and will defend the territory against intruders (2).

The female Sinai hooktail arrives at the breeding site and selects a mate. The male uses the hooked appendage on the tip of the abdomen to grip the female near the eyes. Once in this position, known as ‘in tandem’, the male bends around to form an uneven heart shape, and copulates with the female (3).

In Gomphidae, copulation begins in the air, although the mating pair often move to the safety of a river bank or vegetation where they stay joined for several minutes. The female deposits the eggs, unattended by the male, by striking the abdomen against the surface of the water (3).

The Gomphidae has an aquatic larval stage which lasts one to three years, depending on the species (3). The larvae are bottom-dwelling, with flat, stubby and hairy bodies. The legs of the larvae are particularly strong and often have tibial hooks to help dig burrows in the silt and mud (3), where the larvae hide from predators in the sediment (9). Gomphidae larvae also have paddle or club-shaped antennae, which help with digging (3).

All Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) undergo incomplete metamorphosis, meaning there is no intermediate pupal stage between a nymph and an adult. The aquatic larvae go through a series of moults called instars. The final instar makes its way up a vertical surface, climbing out of the water, and in Gomphidae this usually happens during early morning (3).

Once out of the water, the larva attaches to its resting surface using its claws. It will then switch from aquatic respiration, using gills, to terrestrial respiration through spiracles. Emergence begins as the skin breaks down the back of the head, and the new head, thorax, legs and part of the new abdomen are slowly pulled out. The individual will then rest for a short period to allow the body to dry out and the legs to harden. The hardened legs are used to grip the shed larval skin and pull itself free (3).

Top

Sinai hooktail range

Ranging from Saharan Africa to southeast Arabia, the Sinai hooktail is known from a few sites in Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman (1) (5) (6). In western Africa, the Sinai hooktail can only be found in the Air Mountains of Niger (7).

The Sinai populations are thought to be extinct (1), but the Sinai hooktail was recently recorded in Iran for the first time (8).

Top

Sinai hooktail habitat

The Sinai hooktail prefers clear, running water in desert environments (1) although it can also be found around permanent still water in the Air Mountains (7). The larvae are aquatic, while the adult Sinai hooktail is usually found in nearby vegetation or woodland (3)

Top

Sinai hooktail status

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

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened

Top

Sinai hooktail threats

Severe drought is a major threat to the Sinai hooktail (1) (5). The Sinai hooktail is particularly sensitive to water extraction (7), and expanding human populations are putting a strain on freshwater resources (5). The Sinai hooktail depends on natural streams, or wadis, but these are disappearing due to overuse by humans for drinking water and irrigating crops (1) (5) (6). In the next decade a 30 percent decline in wadis may occur as a result of natural drought alone (1).

Gomphidae species are intolerant to water pollution (3), and sewage and chemicals used on farms can enter water bodies (5) (6), causing a decline in population numbers (6). Surrounding vegetation is also being burned and destroyed to make way for farmland (6), and overgrazing is degrading natural dragonfly habitats (5).

Top

Sinai hooktail conservation

Although there are protected natural reserves and national parks in northern Africa and Arabia, it is difficult to protect the isolated water bodies required by the Sinai hooktail (5). Regulations on chemical use and farm land expansion need to be created and upheld (6), and more importantly a permanent water management plan must be introduced to reduce water extraction and pollution (1) (5) (6).

Educating local communities and training local people involved in nature conservation is also recommended to protect Odonata and their habitats in northern Africa and Arabia (5).

Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is a principal sponsor of ARKive. EAD is working to protect and conserve the environment as well as promoting sustainable development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Top

Find out more

 More information on dragonfly and damselfly conservation:

Top

Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

This species information was authored as part of the ARKive and Universities Scheme.
Top

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 (such as 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.
Antennae
A pair of sensory structures on the head of invertebrates.
Instars
Development stages of an immature insect. At the end of each instar, the insect sheds the rigid external skeleton (the exoskeleton), enabling it to grow and form a new, larger exoskeleton.
Larvae
The stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
Metamorphosis
An abrupt physical change from the larval to the adult form.
Moult
In insects, a stage of growth whereby the hard outer layer of the body (the exoskeleton) is shed and the body becomes larger.
Nymph
Stage of insect development, similar in appearance to the adult but sexually immature and without wings. The adult form is reached via a series of moults, and the wings develop externally as the nymph grows.
Pupal stage
In some insects, a stage in the life cycle during which the larval form is reorganised into the adult form. The pupa is usually inactive, and may be encased in a chrysalis, cocoon or other protective coating.
Spiracles
In insects, spiracles are pores on the body that allow air to enter the respiratory system.
Territory
An area occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a group.
Thorax
In insects, the three segments between the head and the abdomen, each of which has a pair of legs.
Tibia
The fourth segment from the base of an insect’s leg
Top

References

  1. IUCN Red List (August, 2013)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Giles, G.B. (1998) An illustrated checklist of the damselfies and dragonflies of the UAE. Tribulus, 8(2): 9-15. Available at:
    http://www.enhg.org/trib/V08N2/TribulusV08N2Searchable.pdf
  3. Silsby, J. (2001) Dragonflies of the World. Natural History Museum, London, UK.
  4. Brisbane Insects and Spiders - Gomphidae (July, 2011)
    http://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_dragons/GOMPHIDAE.htm
  5. Jödicke, R., Boudot, J-P., Jacquemin, G., Samraoui, B. and Schneider, W. (2004) Critical species of Odonata in northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. International Journal of Odonatology, 7(1): 239-253.
  6. Clausnitzer, V. (2004) Critical species of Odonata in eastern Africa. International Journal of Odonatology, 7(2): 189-206.
  7. Darwall, W., Smith, K., Lowe, T. and Vié, J.-C. (2005) The Status and Distribution of Freshwater Biodiversity in Eastern Africa. IUCN SSC Freshwater Biodiversity Assessment Programme. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  8. Sadeghi, S. and Mohammadalizadeh, J. (2009) Additions to the Odonata fauna of Iran. Iranian Journal of Science and Technology, 33: 355-359.
  9. Remsburg, A. (2011) Relative influence of prior life stages and habitat variables on dragonfly (Odonata: Gomphidae) densities among lake sites. Diversity, 3: 200-216. Available at:
    http://www.mdpi.com/1424-2818/3/2/200/pdf
X
Close

Image credit

Sinai hooktail close up of face  
Sinai hooktail close up of face

© Robert W. Reimer

Robert W. Reimer
c/o United Arab Emirates University - UGRU
P.O. Box 17172
Al Ain
United Arab Emirates
Tel: +971 (50) 663-0764
ARKive@ArabianDragons.com
http://www.enhg.org/trib/V17/TribulusV17P037-062.pdf

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Sinai hooktail (Paragomphus sinaiticus) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

This species is featured in:

This species is featured in Jewels of the UAE, which showcases biodiversity found in the United Arab Emirates in association with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.

This species is featured in:

This species is affected by global climate change. To learn about climate change and the species that are affected, visit our climate change pages.

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog RSS