Saturday, May 1, 2021

Two new SPECIES of damselflies discovered from Western Ghats

Euphaea thosegharensis 
Researchers from TORG (TNHS Odonata Research Group) Kerala, and odonate enthusiasts from Maharashtra have discovered two new species of damselflies from Satara district of Maharashtra in northern Western Ghats. The new damsels commonly called Torrent Darts, are large insects belonging to the genus Euphaea. They have been named  Euphaea thosegharensis and Euphaea pseudodispar, and are endemic to Western Ghats. The research team included Dr. Sriram Bhakare, Pratima Pawar & Sunil Bhoite from Satara and Dr Kalesh Sadasivan & Vinayan Nair from Travancore Nature History Society, Trivandrum. 

So far only three endemic species of Euphaea are known from Western Ghats. Euphaea fraseri  is a very common species in the forested foot hills of Western Ghats, and is found from Kanyakumari to Maharashtra at 100 -1200 m. Euphaea dispar is restricted to North of Palghat gap from South Kanara and  Coorg to Nilgiris from 1066 to 1828m. E. cardinalis is a montane species above 900 m found South of Palghat gap in Anamalais, Palnis and Agasthyamalai Hills. Both new species are restricted to the high elevation streams and riparian patches of Satara district around Thoseghar and Kaas lake in Maharashtra and are thus endemic to the northern Western Ghats, as far as it is known.

Euphaea pseudodispar 
Euphaea thosegharensis is similar to Euphaea cardinalis, while Euphaea pseudodispar is similar to Euphaea dispar, but can be easily separated by its colouration and morphology. The species were probably overlooked for their superficial similarity to other species of Euphaea known from the Euphaea and the study highlights need for more systematic surveys of odonates in northern Western Ghats. The article has been published in the recent issue of ‘Journal of Threatened Taxa’. 

The discovery happened in May 2020 when Dr. Bhakare posted some photographs of Euphaea damsels in the newly formed Facebook group ‘Odonates of Western Ghats’ of TORG in which Dr .Sadasivan & Vinayan Nair are admins. The Facebook group within one year have significantly contributed in popularising odonata studies in South India with 1.4 k members from various parts of India. 

We are thankful to Abraham Samuel, Manoj Sethumadavan, and Jeevith S. for field images. We thank M. Jafer Palot, K.A. Subramanian, and Noppadon Makbun for their support and members of TNHS, Thiruvananthapuram, for field assistance.

Bhakare, S.D., V.P. Nair, P.A. Pawar, S.H. Bhoite & K. Sadasivan (2021). Two new species of Euphaea Selys, 1840 (Odonata: Zygoptera: Euphaeidae) from northern Western Ghats, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 13(5): 18200–18214. 

In News

Malayali researchers discover two new species of damselflies - The New Indian Express 28th April 2021


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