AimOdonates are reliable ecological indicators and are used in many ecological studies globally. However, in India, such studies are scarce, mainly because of scarcity of baseline data. During 2011-2013, we surveyed Sahyadri Tiger Reserve (STR), a part of Northern Western Ghats, for documenting Odonata diversity and understanding how the species composition changes depending upon habitat structure. This is the first effort to survey Odonates from STR.
MethodsWe surveyed odonates of STR across 92 localities using belt transects in post-monsoon season, when the Odonata activity is at peak. A CCA was carried out to understand change of species composition across various environmental variables (P<0.01 for first two axes). Three species were selected for niche modeling considering the number of records. Ecological niche modeling (ENM) tool of DIVA-GIS was used to predict species possible distribution.
ResultsWe recorded 65 species of odonates out of which 5 are new records for Maharashtra and 3 are new distributional records for Western Ghats of Maharashtra. Chalakewadi south 1 O was the most species diverse locality. The CCA analysis showed that species associated with closed forest/lentic system were endemic and that few localities in buffer area of STR support these species. ENM of selected species suggest that the species might be spread further north to STR.
ConservationThe study records 60% of Maharashtra’s known Odonata fauna adding new species to the list. Althouh open lentic systems was the most Odonata diverse land-use, all the threatened and data deficient species were found associated with closed forests suggesting that, closed forest patches need to be protected especially in buffer areas of STR. The ENM prediction was validated by recent research, suggesting that it can be used to identify potential areas of species presence.