A collaborative research team from the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute (TFRI) and Taipei Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center said it has discovered an endemic and endangered new sympetrum (a genus of dragonfly) species.
Identification of the new species — sympetrum nantouensis — by Tang Hsin-chieh (唐欣潔), Yeh Wen-chi (葉文琪) and Chen Szu-lung (陳賜隆), was published in the international journal Zootaxa in August.
The TFRI said the sympetrum nantouensis was first discovered in 2007 at a swamp near the institute’s Lienhuachih (蓮華池) Ecological Research Center in Nantou County, and later confirmed by the three researchers as a new species.
Owing to the male insect’s distinctive feature of a very slim and bright red abdomen, it is named “纖紅蜻蜓” in Chinese, meaning “slim-red dragonfly.”
In addition to being an endemic species in Taiwan, it may also be the only species among sympetrum to inhabit only a single island in a relatively small area, the institute said, adding that so far it is only found in Nantou County.
The team also suggested to list it as an endangered species, following the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categories and criteria, because its habitat is near cultivated lands and developed areas, and may easily be damaged or affected by human behavior.
The team said so far there are about 150 species of Odonata insects — including dragonflies and damselflies, which both have two pairs of wings that move independently and can catch other insects as prey in flight, and are most often seen near bodies of water.
Because the Odonata spends juvenile period in water, the insects serve as an important indicator of the environment near fresh water bodies, and if the environment is damaged, the number and group composition of Odonata in the area will be directly affected, the team said.