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Rediscovery of Macromia flinti with observations on the female and novel faunistic records (Odonata: Macromiidae)

  • Butterfly Conservation Society of Sri Lanka

Abstract and Figures

Macromia flinti Lieftinck, 1977, is an endemic dragonfly in Sri Lanka and one of the rarest known odonates in the country. Originally described based on a single specimen collected in 1970, it had not been reported in the past 50 years and thus was considered a globally Critically Endangered Species (IUCN), possibly even extinct. Here we report the rediscovery of the species based on a female specimen observed in the hand and multiple other field observations recorded with photographs. We also provide a summary of all known observations, the first photographs of the species in life and a description of the female, as well as notes on the species identification, its distribution, and natural history.
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Notulae odonatologicae 9(9) 2022: 419-428
Rediscovery of Macromia in with observaons on the female
and new locality records (Odonata: Macromiidae)
Amila P. Sumanapala1,2*, arindu Ranasinghe2, M.G. Sanjaya Pushpalal3
1 Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka;
2 Buttery Conservation Society of Sri Lanka, 762/A, Yatihena, Malwana, 11670, Sri Lanka
3 Young Zoologists’ Association, National Zoological Gardens, Dehiwala, Sri Lanka
* Corresponding author
Abstract. Macromia inti Lieinck, 1977, is an endemic dragony in Sri Lanka and one of
the rarest known odonates in the country. Originally described based on a single specimen
collected in 1970, it had not been reported in the past 50 years and thus was considered a
globally Critically Endangered Species (IUCN), possibly even extinct. Here we report the re-
discovery of the species based on a female specimen observed in the hand and multiple other
eld observations recorded with photographs. We also provide a summary of all known ob-
servations, the rst photographs of the species in life and a description of the female, as well
as notes on the species identication, its distribution, and natural history.
Further key words. Dragony, Anisoptera, ‘Possibly Extinct’ species, endemic, biodiversity,
Central Highlands of Sri Lanka, South Asia
e genus Macromia Rambur, 1842, is represented in Sri Lanka by three endem-
ic species: Macromia inti Lieinck, 1977, M. weerakooni Sumanapala, 2021, and
M. zey lanica Fraser, 1927 (S 2021). Macromia zeylanica is a relatively
common species whereas the other two are among the rarest odonates in the country.
Macromia inti was originally described based on a single male specimen collect-
ed in 1970 from Uggalkaltota by Oliver S. Flint Jr., aer whom the species is named
(L 1977). Since the original collection, no further records of the species
have been reported in the literature or other sources of natural history observations
for about 50 years, despite some targeted surveys (B et al. 2014: 204–205).
According to the limited information available in the original description, the holo-
type M. inti was collected at an elevation of 500 feet (= 152 m a.s.l.) between 10–14
October (L 1977). Nothing further was known about its biology or eco lo-
gy. e female of the species also remained unknown. As it was only known from a
single location with no recent records, M. inti has been categorized as a Critically
Endangered (IUCN: CR) species. Additionally, in the IUCN red list assessment it
has been agged as ‘Possibly Extinct, but noting the assessors’ suspection that it is
not extinct and recommendation that further surveys are essential to conrm its
status (B et al. 2021).
Notulae odonatologicae 9(9) 2022: 419-428
Odonatological surveys conducted in the past few years in Sri Lanka have reported
multiple observations of Macromia specimens resembling M. inti. During a recent
biodiversity assessment in the Dabar Estate in Deraniyagala, Kegalle District, a Ma-
cromia was captured and examined in detail conrming it to be a female M.inti.
With this observation and multiple other photographic observations conrmed sub-
sequently, we here report the rediscovery of M. inti with new locality records, ad-
ditional observations on natural history and rst photographs of the species in life.
Study site and methods
Data were collected in Dabar Estate at Kambili Oya river, a tributary to Sitawaka
river, Kegalle District (6.89858°N, 80.38831°E; 179 m a.s.l.) on 01.viii.2021, using
the visual encounter survey method primarily targeting adult odonates. Field pho-
tographs were obtained recording all Macromia observations made. A single female
specimen was captured, examined in hand and photographed in the eld using a
Canon EOS 7D Mark ii camera tted with a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Mac-
ro Lens. Measurements of the specimen were taken using a standard millimetre rul-
er. e observations were compared with photographs of the holotype of Macro mia
inti (USNM-ent_00391586) at the National Museum of Natural History, United
States (USNM 2022), and the species description (L 1977). Previous eld
observations with photographic records were identied by comparison with the ex-
amined specimen and the holotype. No voucher specimen was collected and nd-
ings are reported based on eld observations and photographic records.
Abbreviations: Fw – fore wing; Hw – hind wing; Ax – antenodal cross-veins; Px
postnodal cross-veins; Cux – cubital cross-veins; S1–10 – abdominal segments.
Measurements given in [mm].
List of localities with records of Macromia inti
(1) Kambili Oya river at Dabar Estate, Kegalle District (6.89858°N, 80.38831°E),
179 m a.s.l. (2) Menikawita Dola stream at Menikavita, Galle District (6.36585°N,
80.41352°E), 142 m a.s.l. (3) Andha Dola stream at Dellawa, Galle District (6.33117°N,
80.45919°E), 375 m a.s.l (4) Mianawathura maha dola stream at Mi a na wathura, Galle
District (6.34566°N, 80.44300°E), 302 m a.s.l. (5) Kalu River at Ram bukoluwa, Matale
District (7.52227°N, 80.79975°E), 234 m a.s.l. (6) Dewalakanda Estate, Kegalle Dis-
trict (7.03952°N, 80.27459°E), 213 m a.s.l. (7) An unnamed stream at Lankagama,
Galle District (6.37028°N, 80.47759°E), 292 m a.s.l. (8) Menikavita Dola stream at
Menikavita, Galle Distirct (6.37034°N, 80.41344° E), 187 m a.s.l..
Field observations
A female Macromia inti (Fig. 1) was observed ovipositing at Kambili Oya river at
11: 45 h (IST; UTC + 5:30). A combination of characters were evident, including the
Notulae odonatologicae 9(9) 2022: 419-428
Fig. 1. Female Macromia in. A – lateral view; B – dorso-lateral view. Dabar Estate, Kegalle
District, Sri Lanka (01.viii.2021). Photos: APS
similarities in yellow markings / colour pattern and general size in comparison to
the holotype male of M. inti, leading to the species determination of the specimen.
A description of the observed specimen is given below along with further diagnistic
notes on the species. Multiple eld observations of previously unidentied Macro-
mia recorded photographically were subsequently assessed as representing M. inti
and a summary of all these recent records is listed in the following: numbers in bold
correspond with the list of localities above.
(1) 1 01.viii.2021. (2) 11 08.ix.2020. (3) 1 27.vii.2019. (4) 1 11.ix.2018.
(5)1 (6) 1 (7) 11 01.viii.2016. (8) 3 06.viii.2015.
Notulae odonatologicae 9(9) 2022: 419-428
Description of the female of Macromia inti
Head black marked in citron yellow. Eyes bottle green above merging to yellow ven-
trally and along much of posterior margin. Numerous pseudopupils on the lower
two-thirds of the eyes. Yellow markings as shown in Figures 2A, C, D, frons un-
marked dorsally. orax metallic-green with yellow markings shown in Figures1A,
2A. Citron yellow markings on the head and thorax (Figs 1A and 2A, C, D) resem-
ble those of the male [apparent yellow post median bands on the thorax visible in
Fig. 2C are reections generated by the ash light].
Fig. 2. Morphological details of the female Macromia in. A – Lateral view of head and
thorax; B – right fore wing and hind wing; C – anterior view of the head; D – dorsal view of
the head; E – lateral view of segment 7 –10; F – dorsal view of segment 7 –10. Dabar Estate,
Kegalle District, Sri Lanka (01.viii.2021). Photos: APS
Notulae odonatologicae 9(9) 2022: 419-428
Wings hyaline with slightly diused small amber area in the anterior portion of the
extreme base (Figs 1B, 2B). Hw base round. Right Fw with 18 Ax and 7 Px, and right
Hw with 12 Ax and 10 Px. 18 Ax and 8 Px in le Fw and 12 Ax and 9 Px in le Hw.
Triangle without cross veins in both Fw and Hw. Anal loop with 15 cells. Cubital
space with 5 Cux in Fw and 4 Cux in Hw. Short dark pterostigma with oblique distal
margin. Membranule tinged in greyish brown (Fig. 2B).
Abdomen black and marked in citron yellow (Fig. 1). S2 with a broad ventral
spot, a pair of dorsal and lateral spots in the middle. S3 marked similarly to the male
in pattern but more extensively (Figs 1A, 2A). Mid-dorsal yellow spots on S3–6
gradually decrease in size towards the apical segments (Fig. 1). S7 with a broad ba-
sal ring with a small conical apical extension along the mid dorsal carina. is ring
narrows abruptly as it moves towards the ventral half and extends again towards
the apex on the ventral side. S8–10 unmarked. Apical portion of S7 and S8 slightly
expanded both laterally and ventrally. Vulvar scale leaf-like in lateral view. Cerci
almost as long as S10, black, tapering with gradually outward curved inner margins
(Figs 2E, F). Measurements (mm): Abdomen – 50, Hw – 44, Total length – 76.
Species identication
Macromia inti can be identied in the eld by the combination of the following
characters: green eyes with yellowish lower halves, dark frons without a pair of
dorsal yellow spots and lateral yellow markings, a short rudimentary antehumeral
stripe, a complete yellow stripe on the anterior border of metepisternum and a
dark abdomen with rather sparse yellow markings, but a conspicious yellow band
on S7. Males (Fig. 3) have a long, robust, slightly posteriorly directed spine on
segment 10 and unmarked S8 of abdomen. Macromia inti somewhat resembles
M.weerakooni in size and by having a short antehumeral stripe, but diers from
the latter by the other characters stated above and listed in its original description
by S (2021). It should also be noted that the female of M. weerakooni
is unknown. In comparison to Macromia zeylanica, M. inti is larger, has a shorter
antehumeral stripe and dark frons with no dorsal yellow spots or lateral yellow
markings (Fig. 4).
Distribution of the species
e holotype male of M. inti was collected from Uggalkaltota which is on the
southern slopes of the central highlands of Sri Lanka at an elevation of about 150m
a.s.l.. Recent observations are reported from the eastern slopes of the Knuckles
Mountain Range, western slopes of the central highlands and the southwestern
slope of the Rakwana Mountains (Fig. 5). All localities are between 100–400 m
a.s.l. in elevation. Considering recent locality records and their elevation range, it is
likely that the species is distributed throughout the foothills of wet and intermedi-
ate climatic zones of Sri Lanka. From an odonatological perspective, these represent
Notulae odonatologicae 9(9) 2022: 419-428
the Mid-country wet odonate zone, the Northern mid-country wet odonate zone
and the Intermediate odonate zone of the country (MMDE 2019: 27).
Fig. 3. A male Macromia in.
Mianawathura, Galle District, Sri
Lanka (11.ix.2018). Photo: MGSP
Fig. 4. A morphological comparison of Sri Lankan Macromia males. A – M. weerakooni.
Kirikia, Gampaha District (12.iv.2015); B M. zeyanica. Illukkumbura, Matale District (10.
xi.2020). C – M. in. Mianawathura, Galle District (11.ix.2018). Photos: APS (A, B), MGSP (C)
Notulae odonatologicae 9(9) 2022: 419-428
Fig. 5. Map of the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka with geographical posions of the type
locality () and addional records () of Macromia in.
Natural history
Based on the recent observation, M. inti inhabits rivers and large streams in the
foothills of the Sri Lankan highlands. e female examined at Dabar Estate was
observed at Kambili Oya river with an average width of about 12 m and dense ripar-
Notulae odonatologicae 9(9) 2022: 419-428
ian vegetation (Fig. 6A). Rocks and boulders were present along the river and the
substrate was rocky with pockets of sand, pebbles, cobbles, and litter. e river ow
was fast in the stretch with boulders but slow in the other segments and especially
along the river edge. e captured female was observed ovipositing in a shady site
at the river edge with a slow river ow (Fig. 6B). Elsewhere, males have been ob-
served patrolling rivers along their banks ying swily, close to the water surface.
Individuals have been observed resting in the dense riparian vegetation and mating
pairs (Fig. 7) have been observed in similar habitats.
e type specimen was collected in October, but recent observations suggest that
the adults of M. inti are also on the wing from June to September. is period
coincides with the south-western monsoonal period in Sri Lanka and the following
e rediscovery of M. inti was conrmed based on the female specimen captured
and examined in the hand at Dabar. e observed female was slightly larger than
the holotype male specimen, but the patterns on the head, thorax, and abdomen
were almost identical. Other observations reported here are based on photographic
observations conrmed in comparison to the holotype and the female specimen we
e new locality records for the species suggest that M. inti is likely to have a
much wider distribution than is presently known in the foothills of Sri Lanka in as-
sociation with rivers and large streams. More surveys and observations are required
to better understand the full extent of its range and its preferred habitats. However,
it is interesting to note that almost all the species records are from locations out-
side protected areas but are associated with fragmented forest patches or densely
vegetated riparian areas. Multiple observations from several locations southwest of
Sinharaja forest reserve and in the vicinity of Dellawa forest reported across several
Fig. 6. Habitat (A) and oviposion site (B) of the Macromia in female observed at Dabar
Estate, Kegalle Disitrict, Sri Lanka (01.viii.2021). Photos: APS
Notulae odonatologicae 9(9) 2022: 419-428
Fig. 7. A mang pair of
Macromia in. Meni-
kawita, Galle District, Sri
Lanka (08.ix.2020). Pho-
to: MGSP
years by the third author indicates the importance of conserving and monitoring
such habitats in the long run to support and understand the species.
With the new records presented here, the species will likely be downgraded from
its current Critically Endangered threat status in future conservation assessments,
which is good news. However, it should be noted that the Extent of occurrence
(EOO) and Area of occupancy (AOO) of this endemic Macromia are relatively
Notulae odonatologicae 9(9) 2022: 419-428
small and given the multiple pressures on Sri Lankan lotic habitats the species is
still to be regarded as globally endangered. It is of utmost importance to conserve
the rivers and larger streams with dense riparian vegetation, to ensure the survival
of the species throughout its range. Land managers and relevant decision-makers
should take these habitats into account in planning development activities and
management implications as they support multiple species with conservation im-
portance including the elusive Macromia inti.
Acknowledgements. The rst author wishes to extend his gratude to Karolyn Darrow and
Oliver Flint of U.S. Naonal Museum for providing photographs of the specimen referred;
Devaka Weerakoon for the guidance and advice; Lalan Rubbers Pvt. Ltd. for facilitang the
eldwork in Dabar estate; Dilani Sumanapala, Nuwan Jayawardana, Ruvinda de Mel for
support during the work; and all reviewers for their inputs. The third author wishes to
thank Kelum Manamendra-Arachchi for guidance and Kokila Sanjeewani for the support
during eldwork.
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 A.P. 2021. Macromia inti. e
IUCN Red List of reatened Spe-
cies 2021: e.T59738A170688022.
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B M.,   P N.,
C K.  Š A. 2014. Dra-
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Received 16th February 2022
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