Kauri Redcoat Damselfly (Xanthocnemis sobrina (McLachlan, 1873))
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 12054292
Kauri Redcoat Damselfly (Xanthocnemis sobrina) is endemic to the New Zealand North Island. It is the only representative of its group in the country that is assessed as Data Deficient after the most recent IUCN Red List evaluation. The assessment was based on uncertainties around the species taxonomy and current conservation status.
The New Zealand North Island was visited in January, 2013. A total of 47 sites were sampled. Xanthocnemis species were discovered in 28 of them. When time permitted, localities were briefly investigated for other damselfly and dragonfly species, however no intensive efforts were made to sample and record them.
Following previous studies of the genus three criteria were selected for identification of X. sobrina in the field:
1) species ecology - inhabitants of cool, shaded streams and bush pools;
2) species behaviour - adults perch on emergent plants or small rocks in the middle of the stream, do not seem to be territorial and remain in the site even in bad weather conditions;
3) species morphology - body size of 38 mm.
All remaining individuals were assigned to X. zealandica.
None of the specimens collected/observed during the present study could be definitely identified as X. sobrina based on the above ecological, behaviour and morphological traits. Completely shaded and cool streams did not harbour any Xanthocnemis specimens at all. In one location only individuals were observed perching on rocks inside the stream or on the sandy banks at the water edge, however that site could not be classified as shaded and cool. An intensive search for more than two hours within a 500 m reach of the same site resulted in only three specimens. Only one site nearly satisfied all three criteria. That was the place where the largest specimens were collected from. The stream was flowing through bush forming small sized pools which were almost completely shaded by the surrounding vegetation. Four specimens were discovered there. All were collected from clusters of riparian grass exposed to sun filtering through the canopy. No individuals were seen on the in-stream rocks.
The next phase of the project will involve independent morphometric and molecular analyses on the sampled insects. The morphology will be studied on about 60 landmarks which will be digitised and compared statistically. Molecular investigation will include sequencing the DNA bar-coding gene. The results from the two analyses will be overlaid in order to establish the congruence of the data gained by the independent researchers.
At its final stage the project will publish the actual taxonomic status and project the current species distribution as analysed by the field sampling and lab work.
Project 12054292 location - New Zealand, Oceania