Guide to the Odonata of central Ñeembucú, Paraguay: indicator species of wetland habitats


The department of Ñeembucú, in south-western Paraguay, is home to the virtually unexplored Ñeembucú Wetlands, the second largest wetland system in the country, representing a major gap in biodiversity knowledge. As organisms ubiquitous with wetlands, the Odonata, or dragonflies (Anisoptera) and damselflies (Zygoptera), have the potential to be effective indicators of wetland habitats in the face of increasing anthropogenic impacts in the region. We therefore comprehensively surveyed the Odonata in central Ñeembucú over a period of two years using a listing method. Here, we present an annotated checklist and identification key to the species present in central Ñeembucú with details on their habitat preferences, phenology and behaviour. We found 60 species but estimate a total of between 62 and 90 species. Eleven (18%) are new records for Paraguay. Species composition is similar to the Argentine Humid Chaco, with four bioregional endemics, whilst representatives from the Andean-Patagonian subregion are present in open areas. Such partitioning of species from different bioregions into different habitats is typical of ecotonal regions. Two further species are endemic to the Paraná-Paraguay basin and three are highly localised, indicating the high conservation value of the Ñeembucú Wetlands. Eleven species have the potential to be effective indicators of the Paraguay River, large permanent wetlands, grassy temporary wetlands and wooded temporary wetlands, providing an effective tool to identify critical wetland ecosystems in the face of the growing threats from human activities. We also provide recommendations for the protection and management of wetlands in the region.

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