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First Record of Autumn Meadowhawk, Sympetrum vicinum, for Nevada. Argia 34(1):16-17

  • Tahoe Institute for Natural Science
16 March 2022
New Records
By T. Will Richardson
On 20 October 2021, Jared
Maninen and I briey stopped
by Rabe Meadows in Douglas
County, Nevada, in the southeast
corner of the Lake Tahoe Basin, to
look for migrant birds. Here the Lam
Wa Tah Trail passes by a small livestock
impoundment known as Jennings
Pond, where Burke Creek pauses on
its way to Lake Tahoe. This entire
area has seen considerable habitat
modication for over a century, from
heavy livestock grazing through the
early 1900s, use as a short-lived airport
strip, grading for a casino development
immediately adjacent to the pond, and
in 2015 restoration efforts spanning
approximately nine hectares to restore
the riparian and wetland habitat and the
Burke Creek channel.
Though it was sunny when we
arrived at about 1 PM, the day was
characterized by cool temperatures
(12°C), a steady breeze (20 km/h), and
mostly cloudy conditions, so we were
quite surprised to spot a male Autumn
Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum)
perched on a split-rail fence between
the trail and the pond. We took several
photos each from near point-blank
range (Fig. 1), as the animal seemed
hesitant to y. Occasionally ushed
from its perch, it always returned to the
same piece of fence, and after taking
photos for a few minutes we walked
away, leaving the dragony where it
This observation constitutes the
rst documented record for the species
within the state of Nevada. Nevada
is a large, arid state with relatively
few people, and its odonate fauna
has received very little attention. The
only systematic odonate surveys in far
western Nevada that I am aware of have
been those by Kennedy (1917), who
First Record of Autumn Meadowhawk,
Sympetrum vicinum, for Nevada
visited the region in 1914, and by Ball-
Damerow et al. (2014), who revisited
Kennedy’s sites in 2011–2013. Given
the late ight season for S. vicinum, it
is a species that can be missed during
summer odonate surveys. Kennedy and
Ball-Damerow’s surveys did not extend
past mid-September, though this is
within the known ight period for the
species in California.
Many taxa that occur within Nevada
are found only in the Lake Tahoe area,
as the Carson Range, a spur range of
the Sierra Nevada, brings with it distinct
oral and faunal associations. Examples
include approximately 115 species and
subspecies of plants (Charlet 1996;
Nachlinger and Tiehm in prep), several
species of birds (Richardson 2003;
Floyd et al. 2007) and subspecies of
butteries (Austin 1985; Richardson
and Murphy 2007), mammals like the
Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus
tahoensis; Richardson et al. 2012), the
Mountain Beaver (Aplodontia rufa;
Piaggio and Jeffers 2013), and two
species of tree squirrels (Millar and
Hickman 2019), at least one genus of
beetle (Richardson 2021), and surely
countless other invertebrate taxa. Thus
the Carson Range presents a very
unique environment within the state of
Nevada. Because of this, and because S.
vicinum is known from the California
side of the Lake Tahoe Basin, I see
no reason to suspect that this record
represents a vagrant or range expansion
for the species. It is highly likely the
S. vicinum occurs at other sites in the
Carson Range.
Austin GT. 1985. Nevada
butteries: preliminary checklist
and distribution. Journal of the
Lepidopterists' Society 39(2): 95–118
Ball-Damerow JE, M’Gonigle LK,
Resh VH. 2014. Changes in
occurrence, richness, and biological
traits of dragonies and damselies
(Odonata) in California and Nevada
over the past century. Biodiversity
and Conservation 23: 2107–2126.
Charlet DA. 1996. Atlas of Nevada
Conifers: A Phytogeographic
Reference. University of Nevada
Press, Reno, Nevada. 320 pp.
Floyd T, Elphick CS, Chisolm G, Mack
K, Elston RG, Ammon EM, Boone
JD. 2007. Atlas of the Breeding Birds
of Nevada. University of Nevada
Press, Reno, Nevada. 585 pp.
Kennedy CH. 1917. Notes on the
life history and ecology of the
dragonies (Odonata) of central
California and Nevada. Proceedings of
the United States National Museum
52 (2192): 483–635.
Millar CI, Hickman KT. 2019. New
records for Douglas’ squirrel
(Tamiasciurus douglasii) in two
mountain ranges of the Great Basin.
Western North American Naturalist
79 (1): 99–109.
Nachlinger J, Tiehm AJ. In prep.
Annotated Checklist of Carson
Range Flora.
Piaggio AJ, Jeffers J. 2013. On the
edge: a genetic assessment of
Aplodontia rufa from the edge of
their distribution. Western North
American Naturalist 73 (4): 485–
Richardson TW. 2003. First records of
Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides
arcticus) nesting in Nevada. Great
Basin Birds 6 (1) 2003: 52–55.
17March 2022
Figure 1. Male Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum) found at Jennings Pond, Douglas County, Nevada 20 October 2021. Additional
photos and precise locality data can be found at
Richardson TW. 2021. OMUS Escholtz
(1829) in the State of Nevada.
Cicindela 53 (2): 25–36.
Richardson TW, Murphy DD.
2007. An Inventory and Baseline
Monitoring of the Buttery Fauna of
the Carson Range, with Emphasis on
the Lake Tahoe Basin Nevada State
Park and Adjacent Lands. Final
Report to Nevada Division of State
Lands. 84 pp.
New Records
Richardson TW, Murphy DD, Brussard
PF. 2012. Status and Distribution
of Montane Lagomorphs in the Lake
Tahoe Basin, with Emphasis on the
White-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus
townsendii). Report to Nevada
Division of State Lands. 39 pp.
Will is co-founder and executive director
of the Tahoe Institute for Natural Science
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