Affef B.

Emergence ecology of the critically endangered Urothemis edwardsii in a new colonized site in El Kala National Park (Algeria): conservation implications

Abstract Urothemis edwardsii is one of the most threatened dragonfly species in the Mediterranean. Recent investigations and conservation efforts have increased the local geographic distribution of the species in Northeast Algeria, where a new population (named El Graeate) has been discovered. In the absence of information about the biology and behavior of U. edwardsii in this new site, a study was conducted on the emergence ecology of the species taking into account the temporal pattern of emergence, sex ratio, body size and microhabitat selection. Emergence, which was quite asynchronous, lasted for 50 days, with 50% of the population emerging within the first half of the period. Sex ratio at emergence was slightly female biased despite the absence of sexual size dimorphism, suggesting that size is not the only driving force behind mortality bias during the larval stage. There was a slight seasonal increase in the body size of exuviae (exoskeletons) in both sexes. Microhabitat selection, assessed as the vertical stratification of exuviae at ecdysis, was positively correlated with the height of supporting plants, but the relationship reached a plateau suggesting that there are predetermined limits to the vertical distribution of exuviae. These data will be essential for the future species protection, restoration and management attempts in the region.

Doi https://doi.org/10.35513/21658005.2019.2.10

Keywords Body size; conservation; threatened species; exuviae; Odonata; dragonfly; North Africa

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