Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-2qt69 Total loading time: 0.367 Render date: 2022-08-10T02:07:14.341Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

Do dragonflies migrate across the western Indian Ocean?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 July 2009

R. Charles Anderson*
Affiliation:
Manta Marine Pvt Ltd, P.O. Box 2074, Malé, Republic of Maldives

Abstract:

In the tropical Indian Ocean, the Maldive Islands lack surface freshwater, so are unsuitable for dragonfly reproduction. Nevertheless, millions of dragonflies (Insecta, Odonata; mostly globe skimmer, Pantala flavescens) appear suddenly every year starting in October. Arrival dates in the Maldives and India demonstrate that the dragonflies travel from southern India, a distance of some 500–1000 km. Dates of arrival and occurrence coincide with the southward passage of the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Circumstantial evidence suggests that the dragonflies fly with north-easterly tail winds, within and behind the ITCZ, at altitudes over 1000 m. It is proposed that this massive movement of dragonflies is part of an annual migration across the western Indian Ocean from India to East Africa. Arrival dates in the Seychelles support this hypothesis. Dragonflies also appear (in smaller numbers) in the Maldives in May, with the onset of the southwest monsoon, suggesting a possible return migration from Africa. These proposed migrations of dragonflies, regularly crossing 3500 km or more of open ocean, were previously unknown. It is known that these dragonflies exploit ephemeral rain pools for reproduction; the monsoons and ITCZ bring not only alternating, seasonal rains to India and Africa, but also appropriate winds for dragonflies to follow those rains. Several bird species migrate from India across the western Indian Ocean to wintering grounds in Africa. They do so at the same time as the dragonflies, presumably taking advantage of the same seasonal tail winds. Many of these birds also eat dragonflies; the possible significance of this was not previously appreciated.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

ALI, S. & RIPLEY, S. D. 1987. Compact handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan. Second edition. Oxford University Press, New Delhi. 737 pp.Google Scholar
ANDERSON, R. C. 2007. New records of birds from the Maldives. Forktail 23:135144.Google Scholar
ANON. 1991. Climates of the World. Historical Climatology Series 6–4. U.S. National Climate Data Center, NOAA, Asheville. 33 pp.Google Scholar
BILDSTEIN, K. L. 2006. Migrating raptors of the world: their ecology and conservation. Cornell University Press, Ithaca. 320 pp.Google Scholar
BLACKMAN, R. A. A. & PINHEY, E. 1967. Odonata of the Seychelles and other Indian Ocean island groups, based primarily on the Bristol University Expedition of 1964–1965. Arnoldia 3 (12):138.Google Scholar
BOWLER, J. 2003. The Odonata of Aride Island Nature Reserve, Seychelles: patterns in seasonal abundance and breeding activity. Opuscula Zoologica Fluminensia 210:122.Google Scholar
BROWER, L. P. 1995. Understanding and misunderstanding the migration of the monarch butterfly (Nymphalidae) in North America: 1857–1995. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 49:304385.Google Scholar
CAMPION, H. 1913. The Percy Sladen Expedition to the Indian Ocean in 1905. Vol XV11: Odonata. Transactions of the Linnean Society of London 15:435446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
CLEMENT, P. & HOLMAN, D. 2001. Passage records of Amur Falcon Falco amurensis from SE Asia and southern Africa including first records from Ethiopia. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 121:222230.Google Scholar
CORBET, P. S. 1962. A biology of dragonflies. Witherby, London. 247 pp.Google Scholar
CORBET, P. S. 1979. Pantala flavescens (Fabricius) in New Zealand (Anisoptera: Libellulidae). Odonatologica 8:115121.Google Scholar
CORBET, P. S. 1984. Orientation and reproductive condition of migrating dragonflies (Anisoptera). Odonatologica 13:8188.Google Scholar
CORBET, P. S. (ed) 1988. Current topics in dragonfly biology. 3. A discussion focussing on the seasonal ecology of Pantala flavescens in the Indian subcontinent. Societas Internationalis Odonatologica Rapid Communications (Supplements) 8:124.Google Scholar
CORBET, P. S. 2003. Ecological perspectives of African Odonata. Cimbebasia 18:167172.Google Scholar
CORBET, P. S. 2004. Dragonflies: behaviour and ecology of Odonata. (Revised edition). Harley Books, Colchester. 829 pp.Google Scholar
CORBET, P. S., SUHLING, F. & SOENDGERATH, D. 2006. Voltinism of Odonata: a review. International Journal of Odonatology 9:144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
DIJKSTRA, K.-D. B. 2007. Gone with the wind: westward dispersal across the Indian Ocean and island speciation in Hemicordulina dragonflies (Odonata: Corduliidae). Zootaxa 1438:2748.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
FENG, H.-Q., WU, K.-M., NI, Y.-X., CHENG, D.-F. & GUO, Y.-Y. 2006. Nocturnal migration of dragonflies over the Bohai Sea in northern China. Ecological Entomology 31:511520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
FINDLATER, J. 1969. A major low level air current near the Indian Ocean during the northern summer. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 95:362380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
FRASER, F. C. 1924. A survey of the Odonata (dragonfly) fauna of western India with special remarks on the genera Macromia and Idionyx and descriptions of thirty new species. Records of the Indian Museum 26:423522.Google Scholar
FRASER, F. C. 1936. Odonata. Vol. III. The Fauna of British India including Ceylon and Burma. Taylor and Francis, London. 461 pp.Google Scholar
FRASER, F. C. 1954. The origin and relationships of the odonate fauna of the Belgian Congo. Annales du Musée du Congo Belge, Tervuren, Miscellanea Zoologica 1:368370.Google Scholar
FRITH, D. W. 1979. A twelve month study of insect abundance and composition at various localities on Aldabra Atoll. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 286:119126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
GAMBLES, R. M. 1960. Seasonal distribution and longevity in Nigerian dragonflies. Journal of the West African Science Association 6:1826.Google Scholar
GRIFFITHS, J. F. 1969. Climates of Africa. Pp. 109117 in Morgan, W. T. W. (ed.). East Africa: its people and resources. Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
HOLLAND, R. A., WIKELSKI, M. & WILCOVE, D. S. 2006. How and why do insects migrate? Science 313:794796.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
JOHANSSON, F. & SUHLING, F. 2004. Behaviour and growth of dragonfly larvae along a permanent to temporary water habitat gradient. Ecological Entomology 29:196202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
KUMAR, A. 1984. On the life history of Pantala flavescens (Fabricius) (Libellulidae: Odonata). Annals of Entomology 2:4350.Google Scholar
LARSEN, J. B. 1987. A migration of Pantala flavescens (Fabr.) in South India (Anisoptera: Libellulidae). Notulae Odonatologicae 2:154.Google Scholar
LELIEVELD, J., CRUTZEN, P. J., RAMANATHAN, V., ANDREAE, M. O., BRENNINKMEIJER, C. A. M., CAMPOS, T., CASS, G. R., DICKERSON, R. R., FISCHER, H., DE GOUW, J. A., HANSEL, A., JEFFERSON, A., KLEY, D., DE LAAT, A. T. J., LAL, S., LAWRENCE, M. G., LOBERT, J. M., MAYOL-BRACERO, O. L., MITRA, A. P., NOVAKOV, T., OLTMANS, S. J., PRATHER, K. A., REINER, T., RODHE, H., SCHEEREN, H. A., SIKKA, D. & WILLIAMS, J. 2001. The Indian Ocean Experiment: widespread air pollution from South and Southeast Asia. Science 291:10311036.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
LOBERT, J. M. & HARRIS, J. M. 2002. Trace gases and air mass origin at Kaashidhoo, Indian Ocean. Journal of Geophysical Research 107 (D19):8013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
MAY, M. L. & MATTHEWS, J. H. 2008. Migration in Odonata: a case study of Anax junius. Pp. 6377 in Cordoba-Aguilar, A. (ed.). Dragonflies and damselflies: model organisms for ecological and evolutionary research. Oxford University Press, Oxford.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
MOREAU, R. E. 1938. Bird-migration over the north-western part of the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London Series A 1938:126.Google Scholar
MOREAU, R. E. 1972. The Palaearctic-African bird migration systems. Academic Press, London. 384 pp.Google Scholar
NAOROJI, R. 2006. Birds of prey of the Indian Subcontinent. Christopher Helm, London. 692 pp.Google Scholar
OLSVIK, H. & HÄMÄLÄINEN, M. 1992. Dragonfly records from the Maldives Islands, Indian Ocean (Odonata). Opuscula Zoologica Fluminensia 89:17.Google Scholar
PINHEY, E. C. G. 1951. The dragonflies of Southern Africa. Transvaal Museum Memoir 5:1335.Google Scholar
PINHEY, E. C. G. 1961. A survey of the dragonflies (order Odonata) of Eastern Africa. British Museum (Natural History), London. 184 pp.Google Scholar
PINHEY, E. C. G. 1976. Dragonflies (Odonata) of Botswana, with ecological notes. Occasional Papers of the Museums and Monuments of Rhodesia, Series B, Natural Sciences 5:524601.Google Scholar
RAINEY, R. C. 1951. Weather and the movements of locust swarms: a new hypothesis. Nature 168:10571060.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
RAMAN, S., NIYOGI, D. D. S., SIMPSON, M. & PELON, J. 2002. Dynamics of the elevated land plume over the Arabian Sea and the Northern Indian Ocean during northeasterly monsoons and during the Indian Ocean experiment (INDOEX). Geophysical Research Letters 29:18171820.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
RUBENSTEIN, D. R. & HOBSON, K. A. 2004. From birds to butterflies: animal movement patterns and stable isotopes. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 19:256263.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
SAMWAYS, M. J. & CALDWELL, P. 1989. Flight behaviour and mass feeding swarms of Pantala flavescens (Fabricius) (Odonata: Anisoptera: Libellulidae). Journal of the Entomological Society of South Africa 52:326327.Google Scholar
SATHEESAN, S. M. 1990. Bird-aircraft collision at an altitude of 2424 m over the sea. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 87:145146.Google Scholar
SATO, N., YONEYAMA, K., KATSUMATA, M., SHIROOKA, R. & TAKAYABU, Y. N. 2007. An ITCZ-like convergence zone over the Indian Ocean in boreal late autumn. Geophysical Research Letters 34:157162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
SKERRETT, A., BULLOCK, I. & DISLEY, T. 2001. Birds of Seychelles. Christopher Helm, London. 320 pp.Google Scholar
SMITH, R. A. 1984. Orient Express Part II: October–December 1983. Sea Swallow 33:611.Google Scholar
SUHLING, F., SCHENK, K., PADEFFKE, T. & MARTENS, A. 2004. A field study of larval development in a dragonfly in African desert ponds (Odonata). Hydrobiologia 528:7585.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
URQUART, F. A. 1987. The monarch butterfly: international traveler. Nelson-Hall, Chicago. 232 pp.Google Scholar
VICK, G. S. 1989. List of the dragonflies recorded from Nepal, with a summary of their altitudinal distribution. Opuscula Zoologica Fluminensia 43:121.Google Scholar
WALISER, D. & GAUTIER, C. 1993. A satellite-derived climatology of the ITCZ. Journal of Climate 6:21622174.2.0.CO;2>CrossRefGoogle Scholar
WHISTLER, H. & KINNEAR, N. B. 1934. The Vernay Scientific Survey of the Eastern Ghats. (Ornithological section). Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 37:515528.Google Scholar
WIKELSKI, M., MOSKOWITZ, D., ADELMAN, J. S., COCHRAN, J., WILCOVE, D. S. & MAY, M. L. 2006. Simple rules guide dragonfly migration. Biology Letters 2:325329.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
WOJTUSIAK, J. 1974. A dragonfly migration in the high Hindu Kush (Afghanistan), with a note on high altitude records of Aeshna juncea mongolica Bartenev, and Pantala flavescens (Fabricius) (Anisoptera: Aeshnidae, Libellulidae). Odonatologica 3:137142.Google Scholar
YONEYAMA, K., MASUMOTO, Y., KURODA, Y., KATSUMATA, M., MIZUNO, K., TAKAYABU, Y. N., YOSHIZAKI, M., SHAREEF, A., FUJIYOSHI, Y., McPHADEN, M. J., MURTY, V. S. N., SHIROOKA, R., YASUNAGA, K., YAMADA, H., SATO, N., USHIYAMA, T., MOTEKI, Q., SEIKI, A., FUJITA, M., ANDO, K., HASE, H., U.K., I., HORII, T., YOKOYAMA, C. & MIYAKAWA, T. 2008. MISMO field experiment in the equatorial Indian Ocean. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 89:18891903.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
77
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Do dragonflies migrate across the western Indian Ocean?
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Do dragonflies migrate across the western Indian Ocean?
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Do dragonflies migrate across the western Indian Ocean?
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *