Dragonfly (Odonata) community structure in the Eastern Highlands Biodiversity Hotspot of Zimbabwe: potential threats of land use changes on freshwater invertebrates


We examined the diversity and potential drivers of dragonfly distribution in a biodiversity hotspot of Southern Africa (Eastern Highlands, Zimbabwe) by surveying 30 sites (13 lentic and 17 lotic habitats) located within this region. Additionally, we identified the anthropogenic factors that may threaten Odonata diversity and abundance. Our results revealed that 27 odonate species are associated with dams and ponds, one species is associated with streams and four species are associated with swamp forests. Considering odonate diversity between protected and unprotected areas, we found significantly higher diversity of odonates in streams in protected areas compared to non-protected areas. Broadly, we found anthropogenic activities (e.g. commercial exotic tree plantations, mining activities, vegetation clearing) possibly affect Odonata diversity (by decreasing abundance and diversity) compared to those within protected and undisturbed habitats. Our results reveal that several human activities like human encroachment into riverine habitats potentially threaten the existence of freshwater species in this biodiversity hotspot and biodiversity hotspots elsewhere.

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