THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A new species of damselfly has been discovered in Ponmudi and named Protostatica Ponmudiensis or Ponmudi Reed Tail by C G Kiran, S Kalesh and Krushnamegh Kunte.
According to the three, the species is highly endemic. Kalesh said: ‘’We noticed the species in June last year, by the side of a stream in Ponmudi. These damselflies were restricted to the 2m X 10m stream. For this reason, we are wary of letting out the exact location of the stream.’’ The report has been published in an open access journal called ‘Journal of Threatened Taxa’. The first two discoverers are founder-members of a Thiruvananthapuram based NGO called Travancore Natural History Society. Kunte is a researcher at National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bengaluru. It was during a collaborative project between TNHS and NCBS that the damselfly was noticed for the first time in June 2013. According to Kalesh, they could immediately make out that the damselfly belonged to Protostatica genus, as these have slender bodies like bamboo reeds. (And so the name ‘reed tail’.) However it was distinctly different from the ten known species of Protostatica found in India. Its large size, bright green eyes, distinct anal appendages and large stripes at its tail end set it apart. The new species lives in hiding until June or July when it comes out for breeding, and perishes immediately after. Since it seemed to be restricted to Ponmudi and there had not been any other known sightings so far, TNHS invited fellow damselfly enthusiasts to post sightings on Facebook. A stray Ponmudi Reed Tail was reported in Kallar.
‘’With the help of other NGOs and individuals, the population and distribution of the damselfly needs to be mapped. The population data will be submitted to IUCN to include it in the Red List,’’ says Kalesh.
After collecting more specimens, adult specimens were photographed. Two specimens were pinned for taxonomic work, and one preserved in ethanol for molecular phylogenetic work. The specimens have been deposited in a climate-controlled collections facility at NCBS. The inventors hope that more researchers will come forward to study the species.