Dragonfly Society of the 

Americas (DSA) Regional Meeting--Central America 


This June the Dragonfly Society of the Americas, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the discovery, conservation and knowledge of Odonata through observation, collection, research, publication, and education, will be convening in Costa Rica for the Society's first-ever Central American meeting. The meeting is held in partnership with the Organization of Tropical Studies (OTS), a non-profit consortium of almost 60 academic and research institutions from around the world working together to strengthen education and research in tropical biology. The focus will be on field excursions to explore the local odonate fauna at two of the OTS field stations: La Selva, in the Caribbean lowlands of northern Costa Rica; and Palo Verde, on the Pacific slopes of northwestern Costa Rica.

 

The odonates of the neotropics are well worth the hunt. The neotropical region, which includes the Caribbean islands and the lowlands of Mexico through Central and South America, has an enormous odonate diversity, and an ongoing high rate of new species discoveries. In fact, 2015 has already seen the formal description of a new species of dragonfly in Costa Rica, the La Selva Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax laselva), named for the OTS biological station at which it was first collected, and in honor of OTS's 50th anniversary. E. laselva is also notable in that it is only the 2nd species of dragonfly known to breed in the water-filled leaf bases of bromeliad plants. 

 

Unfortunately, this almost overwhelming diversity means there are still specimens in collections awaiting detailed species descriptions, and the biology, ecology, distribution, and conservation needs of many of the described species of neotropical dragonflies and damselflies are not yet known. In such an environment, almost any observations of behaviors and habitats can provide much-needed species-specific information. MDP Project Coordinator Celeste Searles Mazzacano will soon begin her journey to join fellow DSA members on this exciting excursion. The group will be led by expert odonate researchers Dennis Paulson (who is also an MDP steering committee member) and Ken Tennessen, both of whom have worked extensively in this region and are also founding members of the DSA.  

With daily hunts for such enticingly-named species as the Armed Knobtail (Epigomphus armatus), Golden Firetail (Telebasis aurea), Magnificent Megadarner (Staurophlebia reticulata), and Spine-bellied Dryad (Nephepeltia phryne), and evening presentations on the systematics, ecology, and behavior of neotropical odonates, the meeting will be a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience. Those of you who live in or visit this region or who simply want to find out more about the amazing odonate diversity of this part of the world can check out the new Facebook page "Dragonflies and Damselflies of Neotropical America" (https://www.facebook.com/groups/NeoOdonata/) which was just launched this month by the director of the International Odonata Research Institute, Bill Mauffray. Se habla español en esta página también!

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