Coastal Pennant (Macrodiplax cora)

The photo above (by Wil Leurs) can be viewed in OdonataMAP here.

Macrodiplax cora, commonly known as Coastal or Cora’s Pennant is a dragonfly in the family Libellulidae.

Identification

Medium sized

Length up to 44mm; Wingspan attains 71mm.

The distinctive dumbell-shaped markings along the top of the abdomen are diagnostic in both sexes.

Most likely to be mistaken for Sympetrum fonscolombii or Urothemis assignata.

Macrodiplax cora can be recognised by the diagnostic markings on the abdomen, distinctive wing venation and the small, narrow amber panels in the hindwings.

Macrodiplax cora – Male
Eastern Shores, iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Photo by Wil Leurs

Habitat

Strictly coastal in South Africa, preferring the grassy fringes of estuaries, marshes and pans. May also be found away from water in coastal grasslands and bush. This species is tolerant of brackish water.

Habitat – Kosi Bay, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Behaviour

Perches prominently on top of exposed sticks and other similar perches. Hunts from a perch and has a fast, powerful flight. Often returns to the same perch.

Status and Conservation

Scarce and erratic in occurence in South Africa. The coastal Pennant is listed locally and globally as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Almost the entirely of its South African range is protected within the iSimangaliso wetland Park. Locally, it has only been recorded in undamaged habitats.

Distribution

Macrodiplax cora is predominantly an Asian species and is widespread in tropical Asia and Australasia and also occurs on a number of Indian and Pacific Ocean Islands.

The occurence of this species in Africa is very interesting. The species has established a small resident population in coastal NE KwaZulu-Natal, ranging from St. Lucia up to Kosi Bay, and is also likely to occur in the neighboring part of southern Mozambique. It has also been recorded in coastal Somalia and on the island of Socotra.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Coastal Pennant 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.

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.