Drakensberg Malachite (Chlorolestes draconicus)

Chlorolestes draconicus, the Drakensberg Malachite, is a species of damselfly in the family Synlestidae. This species has a restricted range in the Drakensberg mountains of Lesotho and South Africa. Its conservation status has been assessed as Least Concern as much of its range falls within the uKhahlamba / Drakensberg Park.

The above photo (by Riëtte Griesel) can be viewed in OdonataMAP here. Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Drakensberg Malachite in the OdonataMAP database as at February 2020.

The next map below is an imputed map, produced by an interpolation algorithm, which attempts to generate a full distribution map from the partial information in the map above. This map will be improved by the submission of records to the OdonataMAP section of the Virtual Museum.

Ultimately we will produce a series of maps for all the odonata species in the region. The current algorithm is a new algorithm. The objective is mainly to produce “smoothed” maps that could go into a field guide for odonata. This basic version of the algorithm (as mapped above) does not make use of “explanatory variables” (e.g. altitude, terrain roughness, presence of freshwater — we will be producing maps that take these variables into account soon). Currently, it only makes use of the OdonataMAP records for the species being mapped, as well as all the other records of all other species. The basic maps are “optimistic” and will generally show ranges to be larger than what they probably are.

These maps use the data in the OdonataMAP section of the Virtual Museum, and also the database assembled by the previous JRS funded project, which was led by Professor Michael Samways and Dr KD Dijkstra.

OdonataMAP record by Alan Manson: http://vmus.adu.org.za/?vm=OdonataMAP-20453

The next two graphs shows how the occurrence of Drakensberg Malachites varies within the year, i.e. the phenology. There are only 11 records in the database for this species, so these results need to be treated cautiosly. The first plot shows the number of records in each pentade, five-day periods, which start on 1 July and end on 30 June the following year. There are two pentades with two records, in December-Janaury. The blue line is generated by a smoother, an algorithm which aims to separate the “signal” from the “noise”, and shows the pattern of seasonality for this species. The second plot shows only the blue line, and it is scaled to lie between zero and one, for easy comparison between species.

This phenology plot for the Drakensberg Malachite is tentative (because the sample size is extremely small, only 11 records. It suggests a flight period from December to March. This is a species for which the quality of the phenology plot would be greatly improved by obtaining more OdonataMAP records.

Dragonfly Atlas: Megan Loftie-Eaton, Sally Hofmeyr, Ryan Tippett & Les Underhill
Dragonfly Atlas: Megan Loftie-Eaton, Sally Hofmeyr, Ryan Tippett & Les Underhill
Megan Loftie-Eaton is our communications, social media and citizen science coordinator. Prior to her work for the BDI, she coordinated OdonataMAP, the Atlas of African Odonata. Sally Hofmeyr has many years' experience in the academic world, writing her own material and editing the work of others. Her academic background is in the natural sciences: her PhD and first postdoc in ornithology and environmental change (Animal Demography Unit, University of Cape Town). Ryan Tippett is an enthusiastic contributor to Citizen Science and has added many important and interesting records of fauna and flora. He has been a member of the VMU since 2014 and has currently submitted over 11000 records. He is also on the expert identification panel for the Odonata Map project. Prof Les Underhill has been Director of the Animal Demography Unit (ADU) at the University of Cape Town since it started in 1991. Although citizen science in biology is Les’s passion, his academic background is in mathematical statistics.