Travel & conservation company, since 1991
See how we earn 5 starsTrustpilot - 5 stars
×
SEARCH OUR STORIES
OR
SEARCH OUR SAFARIS
AND / OR
Africa Geographic Travel

Only a fifth of the nine million species of animal, plant and fungus thought to occur on earth are known. The dragonfly species, including damselflies, are viewed as well-known. Nonetheless, 60 newly discovered species have been described by researchers, the greatest number of new dragonflies in about a century. Extract from: Science Naturalis

dragonfly

As dragonflies are good indicators of water quality, knowledge of these insects is important. The discoveries were published by three odonatologists (dragonfly experts) led by guest researcher KD Dijkstra of the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in a 230-page issue of the journal Odonatologica on 1 December 2015.

All dragonflies are bound to freshwater, which occupies less than 1% of the planet’s surface. Nonetheless, it harbours 10% of all animal species. As water is used so intensively, life is most threatened there. The beauty and sensitivity of dragonflies provide a perfect symbol of freshwater health and biodiversity. As freshwater is critical to both nature and mankind, so is knowledge of its dragonflies.

With this research, the number of dragonfly species known in Africa increases at once by almost 10%, from 700 to 760 species. Species discovery gives insight into the mystery and richness of nature. Only by knowing what lives can we know what to protect. This research shows how it is essential to recognise and name species, which is the science known as taxonomy.

dragonfly

“The current emphasis on molecular research creates the impression that the undiscovered life is inconspicuous or hidden, but each of our new species is colourful and easy to identify. It’s a matter of going outside and knowing what you’re looking for,” says Dijkstra. “It’s a biologist’s greatest importance today. Names introduce species to humanity. All awareness, conservation and research of nature starts with the question: which species is that?”

Species description requires much work in the field and museum. “Just now nature is under historic pressure, such research is getting less support,” says Dijkstra. “Nine of our 60 dragonflies were discovered by an employed biologist, all others in a teacher’s and environmental consultants’ free time. We see this effort as a call to science and the public: prioritise the search for unknown life before it’s too late. A quarter-million species could be gone in freshwater alone before they are known. Nature needs more explorers now!”

dragonfly-discovery

Freshwater is under exceptional pressure in Africa. Of the predicted population growth this century from seven to eleven billion, four-fifths is expected to be in Africa. However, most biological research is still done in western countries. That knowledge must be shared and expanded with websites, handbooks, field guides and training. “An American private foundation is helping us take the first steps for African dragonflies. Developing expertise will increasingly require support from individuals and charities. Do we want the world to be aware and know everything about the ferns, corals, dragonflies and millions of other species with which we share the planet?”

dragonfly

To comment on this story: Download our app here - it's a troll-free safe place 🙂.


HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF AFRICA GEOGRAPHIC:

  • Travel with us. Travel in Africa is about knowing when and where to go, and with whom. A few weeks too early / late and a few kilometres off course and you could miss the greatest show on Earth. And wouldn’t that be a pity? Browse our famous packages for experience-based safaris, search for our current special offers and check out our camps & lodges for the best prices.

    Enquire now

  • Subscribe to our FREE newsletter / download our FREE app to enjoy the following benefits.

AG Logo
About

A collection of current affairs articles and press releases from third party sources.

Africa Geographic Travel
[wpforms id="152903"]
<div class="wpforms-container wpforms-container-full" id="wpforms-152903"><form id="wpforms-form-152903" class="wpforms-validate wpforms-form wpforms-ajax-form" data-formid="152903" method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data" action="/stories/60-new-species-dragonflies-discovered-africa/" data-token="7698968fd0e9633da1a9ed09e1fb6017"><noscript class="wpforms-error-noscript">Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.</noscript><div class="wpforms-field-container"><div id="wpforms-152903-field_1-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-email" data-field-id="1"><label class="wpforms-field-label wpforms-label-hide" for="wpforms-152903-field_1">Email Address <span class="wpforms-required-label">*</span></label><input type="email" id="wpforms-152903-field_1" class="wpforms-field-medium wpforms-field-required" name="wpforms[fields][1]" placeholder="Email " required></div></div><div class="wpforms-submit-container"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[id]" value="152903"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[author]" value="223"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[post_id]" value="60403"><button type="submit" name="wpforms[submit]" id="wpforms-submit-152903" class="wpforms-submit" data-alt-text="Sending..." data-submit-text="Subscribe" aria-live="assertive" value="wpforms-submit">Subscribe</button><img src="https://africageographic.com/wp-content/plugins/wpforms/assets/images/submit-spin.svg" class="wpforms-submit-spinner" style="display: none;" width="26" height="26" alt="Loading"></div></form></div> <!-- .wpforms-container -->