Tuesday, August 2, 2022

[Entomology • 2022] Protosticta anamalaica • A New Species of Protosticta Selys, 1885 (Odonata: Zygoptera: Platystictidae) from Western Ghats, India

Protosticta anamalaica
 Sadasivan, Nair & Samuel, 2022

A new species of Protosticta Selys, 1885 is described from Anamalai Hills of southern Western Ghats in peninsular India. The new species is distinguished from its regional congeners by the posterior lobe of the prothorax being devoid of spines; anterior 1/3rd of S8 pale yellow, the marking not connected dorsally; S9 completely black; caudal appendages short, sinuous, and only twice the length of S10, cerci with a small blunt basal tooth; the tip of the superior lobe of cerci not bilobed but straight, paraprocts beveled at the tip, not clubbed; pterostigma of both wings trapezoidal with maximum length less than twice the breadth, forewing with nine & hindwing with eight postnodals, and the structure of male genital ligula. The new species is described from Peechi Wildlife Sanctuary on the northwestern flanks of the Anamalai hills. A key to the identification of Protosticta of the Western Ghats is provided based on mature males.

Keywords: Anamalai Hills, damselfly, endemic species, Kerala, new description, Peechi Wildlife Sanctuary.

Protosticta anamalaica sp. nov.
 holotype male (TORG 1001)
 paratype female (TORG 1002)
B—immature male in field; C—immature female in field.

photos: Kalesh Sadasivan.

Protosticta anamalaica sp. nov.
 Diagnosis: The new species is distinguished from its congeners in the Western Ghats by the combination of posterior lobe of prothorax devoid of spines and its posterior border not expanded; anterior 1/3rd of S8 pale yellow and the marking not connected dorsally; S9 completely black; pterostigma dark brown, trapezoidal with a length twice the breadth, and Fw and Hw with 10 or less Px; cerci with a small blunt basal protuberance; paraprocts not clubbed at apices, the outer fork of cerci not bilobed, its tip being straight and not incurved.
Etymology: The species is named ‘anamalaica’ after the Anamalai hills, on which lies Peechi Wildlife Sanctuary, the type locality.

Suggested common name: The Anamalai Reedtail is the common name suggested for this species based on its distribution in the Anamalai Hills.

Habitat and Ecology: 
The species was first collected from a mid-elevation semi-evergreen forest at 950 m bordering a secondary grassland in Peechi Wildlife Division on the western flanks of Anamalais in November 2021 (Image 2A). The females were first discovered perched on dark trunks of trees at heights less than 2 m above the forest floor (Image 2C). They flew to higher levels of the trunk when disturbed. The males were also found in the same habitat on tree trunks (Image 2B). The females generally outnumbered the males (males: female, 1:2). A small shallow perennial seepage (50 cm wide, 10 cm depth) was found within 150 m of the forest where the males and females were first sighted. Males were seen perched on the low fringing vegetation and twigs (<10 cm high) very close to the edge of the water defending their very small territories (roughly 25 cm2). Males from adjacent territories were seen fighting head-on to protect their waterfront. The females were seen perched on dark shady pockets of the vegetation along the edges of the hill stream. Tenerals were also seen during the last week of November 2021. The damselflies sought shelter in the adjacent forest in windy weather.

Kalesh Sadasivan, Vinayan P. Nair and K. Abraham Samuel. 2022. A New Species of Protosticta Selys, 1885 (Odonata: Zygoptera: Platystictidae) from Western Ghats, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 14(7); 21421–21431. DOI: 10.11609/jott.7792.14.7.21421-21431