The status of Rhionaeschna galapagoensis (Currie, 1901) with notes on its biology and a description of its ultimate instar larva (Odonata, Aeshnidae)

Cordero–Rivera, A.  Encalada, A. C.  Sánchez–Guillén, R. A.  Santolamazza–Carbone, S.  von Ellenrieder, N. 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.32800/abc.2016.39.0045

Abstract

A morphological, molecular, and behavioural characterization of Rhionaeschna galapagoensis is presented, based on a series of specimens and observations from San Cristóbal Island, Galápagos, including both adults and larvae. Several of the characters proposed earlier to distinguish between the adults of this species and its closest relative, R. elsia, are found to be variable, but the presence of a black band over the fronto–clypeal suture is confirmed as a good diagnostic character. The ultimate instar larvae of R. galapagoensis is described for the first time, and diagnosed from its closest relatives by a combination of characters, including the acute angle between the prothoracic apophyses, absence of lateral spines on abdominal segment 6, and length of cerci relative to paraprocts. Molecular analysis confirmed that R. galapagoensis and R. elsia are sister species, and showed that their genetic distance is the closest among the analyzed species, which is to be expected given the young age of the Galápagos Islands. The larvae of R. galapagoensis were very common and widespread in the mountain streams and a pond in the southwest of San Cristóbal. Swarms of tens of individuals formed at sunrise in the coastal vegetation, together with adults of Tramea cf. cophysa, feeding on small flying insects. Males showed patrolling behaviour on small sections of the streams and at a pond. Only one copulation was observed, lasting 10 minutes. Females oviposited alone on floating vegetation in running and standing waters. Our observations corroborate that R. galapagoensis and R. elsia are two parapatric species, morphologically and genetically close. In San Cristóbal, R. galapagoensis had large populations, apparently not threatened.

Key words

Odonata, Aeshnidae, Island species, Sibling species, Endemism, Rhionaeschna

Reception date: 14 IX 15  |   Acceptation date: 20 XI 15  |   Publication date: 03 II 16

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