On 26 January Tom Kompier, accompanied by fellow Odonatologists Magnus Billqvist, Paul Hopkins and Agnes Ludwig, visited the large pond at Vecchi, where he caught and photographed a fresh female of a damselfly species unknown to him. Back at the lodge the riddle was solved using the excellent Damselfly Genera of the New World by Garrison et al. (2010).
This mystery damsel was a member of the genus Aceratobasis. This genus is endemic to the Atlantic Forest, with four known species largely restricted to the lowlands. Although recorded from Rio de Janeiro state, it had so far not been confirmed from REGUA.
Tom quickly wrote to Natalia von Ellenrieder, who provided a paper she wrote with Rosser Garrison in 2008 with additional information on the genus. The specimen turned out to be Aceratobasis macilenta, the smaller of two very similar species. As these damsels, unlike many of their fellow Coenagrionids, hang of leaves and twigs, “Pendant” seems an apt name.
A second visit a few days later failed to turn up more specimens, but luckily a third visit on 5 February by Magnus, Paul and Susan Loose produced a mature male and a mature female, of which Paul was able to take some great photos. It looks like a small population has gained a foothold in the area!
Yet another year has passed and Raquel and I, on behalf of everyone at the REGUA project, would like to share this update that is just full to the brim of encouraging news.
The mission statement of the project is the conservation of the Guapiaçu watershed achieved through the implementation of four principle programmes; protection; restoration; education and research.
Land Purchase is a visceral part of REGUA’s protection programme and in 2019 REGUA purchased or (at the time of writing) is in the process of finalising the purchase of various parcels of land to integrate into the Reserve of 338.5 hectares/846.25 acres. This would not be possible without the continued generosity of our supporters.
REGUA employs 10 rangers from the local community and their work consists of principally patrolling the forests along 45km of the reserve’s trail network. The aim of the patrolling is to show REGUA presence and discourage hunting. Coming from the local community the rangers are able to share news and discuss any concerns which enables them to be part of the decisions made and work done here. Sponsorship supports some of our rangers enabling us to increase our team as land purchase increases the size of the reserve.
REGUA continues to reforest as part of its programme in habitat restoration. The project has now planted over 520,000 trees since 2005. Tree planting is not an easy task, but with support from many individuals, and grants from companies and supportive conservation organisations, REGUA has planted tough areas and results are heart-warming. Increasing the overall forest cover, reducing edge effect, and creating and strengthening forest corridors, which offer greater areas for biodiversity, are vital.
Our education programme thrives with the out-reach programme to local schools meeting over 2,270 children. We have 19 enthusiastic young people in our young ranger programme and have met just under 200 school teachers and received 80 tutors on our teacher courses. All of which continues to spread our message of conservation and the value of the wonderful landscape and biodiversity in to the local communities.
Over 2,000 individuals have participated in training courses and research work at REGUA and our reputation with major universities continues to grow.
The results have led to protocols in tree monitoring established by the RJ Government; on-going experimental plots; long term monitoring plots to measure tree growth; carbon sequestration studies; seed exchange and hosting technical workshops at REGUA as well invitation to participate in seminars and congresses.
Our protection and increased continuous forest, made REGUA a suitable project to launch the tapir reintroduction programme, a fact which we feel is an clear endorsement of the work we are doing. The reintroduction project is run by the Rio de Janeiro University. REGUA currently has nine tapirs roaming in the nearby local forests. This attracts public attention and reflects the value of a safe nature reserve. Sadly things are not always straightforward and two casualties showed that bats, anaemia and infections are to be reckoned with.
Tourism at REGUA has continued to increase as a result of its reputation spread by word of mouth, internet and social media promotion, report writing and reviews. The Lodge offers comfortable accommodation, and guiding helps to make for a pleasurable and productive time. The bird life continues to attract visitors and groups from around the globe, but similarly dragonfly, butterfly and amphibian groups are visiting. Rio is an international hub and makes the REGUA an easy place to visit being just under two hours from the airport with a remarkably preserved habitat.
Our plans for the future are clear, we have to keep developing and promoting our work independently. REGUA wishes to expand and consolidate through land purchase and complementary programmes. Tourism continues to be an essential component of REGUA’s fund-raising.
The conservation principles and ethos has attracted political interest and with the aim of securing water resources, the Government has declared the Guapiaçu watershed as strategically important for conservation.
Brazil continues to be a key area for global conservation, but it’s not an easy country to work in. Located in a global “hotspot”, the Atlantic rainforest biome, located in an “Important Bird Area” (IBA) as defined by Birdlife International, REGUA is an “Outpost of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve”.
Perhaps REGUA is not pristine habitat nor is it the home to some of the more charismatic species instantly recognised by the general public, but our main contribution is that we are repairing and organising damaged ecosystems. REGUA is showing that this different approach, will one day be vital for repairing tropical forests around the globe.
Three RPPNs areas have been constituted and two more are waiting to be approved, taking us up to second position in the State list of protected private areas. Our conservation efforts are being recognised and they are a source of inspiration to people visiting anxious to see what the fuss is all about!
This year REGUA was able to put more land into protection, plant more trees, publish more science and receive more visitors. As a result we are influencing public politics as to the regional importance of this Guapiaçu watershed and encouraging others to follow us.
We could not be prouder of our efforts. We would like to wish everyone a very Happy Xmas and a wonderful New year.
Here’s to a great year ahead – and hoping for more great sightings like the King Vulture photographed by Marco Wood-Bonelli in September 2019!
Tom’s contribution to our knowledge of dragonflies and damselflies has been magnificent and provides valuable evidence of the importance of this reserve. He started his research in 2012, making several visits during the varying Neotropical seasons, travelling from the Netherlands to REGUA throughout 2013 and identifying 204 species in this region. Tom was supported by Dr. Ângelo Pinto and Professor Alcimar Carvalho of the Natural History Museum/UFRJ. This resulted in the publication of A Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Serra dos Orgaos, South-eastern Brazil (see details on our publications page).
The principle difference between dragonflies and damselflies is the position of the wings when resting. Dragonfly wings lie transversal and damselfly wings lie flat alongside their abdomen. 204 species have been recorded at the reserve and REGUA hosts annual visits to see the odonate and in an eight day visit it is possible to see at least 160 species!
Congratulations and thank you Tom for the magnificent contribution your work has given us and you have inspired us to continue to develop studies in ants, butterflies and spiders.
REGUA is one of the world’s best dragonfly hotspots in terms of diversity, and the group was not disappointed. With a total of 166 species seen, the tour even surpassed previous tours.
Not only were there second records of Lestes tricolor and Micrathyria spinifera, and good views of the critically endangered Minagrion ribeiroi and its rare cousin Minagrion waltheri, the group also managed photos of two species not previously documented with photos in nature. Edonis helena is a rarely seen small dragonfly from northern Argentina only recently known to extend into Brazil. A small population occurs in the area. The second was Macrothemis capitata, rediscovered by Tom several years ago at Salinas, but now found in the The Três Picos State Park at the top of our watershed.
Best of all, the group found two species new to the reserve list. The first was an exciting tiny damsel, Nehalennia minuta, found at the old wetland in the reserve. This species occurs widely in South America, but is not often found. And the second was Progomphus virginiae, a beautiful little gomphid found at a forested rocky stream, described from Santa Catharina State. The reserve odonata list now stands at 207 species!
An eminent group of European Dragonfly and Damselfly specialists converged at REGUA this month to see their beloved species under the professional guidance of Tom Kompier from the Netherlands.
Tom (dressed in the National garb above) visited regularly over two years under the auspices of Rio de Janeiro National History Museum, and wrote the definitive guide book on Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Serra dos Órgãos region, identifying an amazing 204 species, one of which is new for science and will named after REGUA!
This is the third organised dragonfly and damselfly tour at REGUA and the group saw 147 species in their eight days here. The weather in the first two days wasn’t helpful, but the group not only cherished seeing their species but loved their time enjoying the REGUA hospitality.
Thank you for coming and sharing your enthusiasm of these quality habitat indicator species!
Miguel Ferreira de Conceição is a young lad from the local community of Matumbo who has a passion for nature.
He comes from a humble background and is now 21 years old, but since joining the Young Ranger programme seven years ago, he found his desire for the future – wanting to work in tourism.
REGUA’s resident teacher Professor Carlos has always been supportive and encouraged him, and a month ago Miguel participated in a test that offered opportunities for a professional “Park visitor guide” course organized by the State Government Institute (INEA).
We were all thrilled that of the 50 applicants, Miguel took third place; a testimony to the value and contribution of REGUA’s Young Ranger programme.
Miguel has started the course and is rightly proud of his achievements. It is rewarding and very satisfying for us to see direct life-changing benefits that can reach deep into other people lives.
In the recently published field guide on the odonata of REGUA, A Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Serra dos Orgaos, the scientific name of the Blue-wedged Dancer is given as Argia claussenii. Rosser Garrison pointed out that this in fact is A. croceipennis, therefore we have amended our odonata list. We are indebted to Rosser for sharing drawings and scans of both species with us that support his view.
The appendages of these two species are quite similar and there are also considerable similarities in colour pattern. However, under the microscope the difference in the shape of the cerci (placement of ventral tooth) can be clearly seen.
In the field there are luckily also a few differences that help identify the species. Argia claussenii has clear wings, whereas those of A. croceipennis are amber colored, and A. claussenii has an occipital bar, whereas A. croceipennis does not. These characteristics are very much in line with the species occurring in fast flowing and rocky streams in the foothills of REGUA. Below are examples of both species, kindly made available by Rosser.
Tom’s excellent guide is available in the UK from Alan Martin. Please send a cheque for £30.50 which includes postage and packing, made out to the ‘Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest Trust’ with your name and address to Alan Martin, Alureds Oast, Northiam, East Sussex, TN31 6JJ.
Orders from other countries should be sent directly to Tom Kompier at firstname.lastname@example.org. Copies will also be available from the REGUA stand at the British Birdfair on 21st – 23rd August at Rutland.
Tom Kompier’s excellent new book A Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Serra dos Orgaos is now available in the UK from Alan Martin. This book describes all 204 species known from the REGUA area and is illustrated with 560 photos.
Please send a cheque for £30.50 which includes postage and packing, made out to the ‘Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest Trust’ with your name and address to Alan at Alureds Oast, Northiam, East Sussex TN31 6JJ.
With 204 species of dragonfly and damselfy now identified at REGUA, the Reserve is a strong contender for having the highest odonata diversity of any site on Earth.
In the spring issue of Dragonfly News, the magazine of the British Dragonfly Society, Dave Smallshire writes about the highlights of a recent dragonfly tour to REGUA that saw the group finding 42 species at the wetland in the first three hours on their first day, and an amazing 166 species during the two week trip, including several rarities!
Dragonfly News is available in the UK to British Dragonfly Society members. Details on how to join and get a hold of the article can be found on their website.
We are thrilled to be able to announce the imminent publication of our new REGUA publications field guide on the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Serra dos Orgaos.
The book has been written by Tom Kompier and describes all of the 204 known species from REGUA and its surroundings. Illustrated with 560 photos and an additional 125 plates, we think this is a milestone in the study and observation of this stunning group of insects.
Publication is due in April. For pre-orders or additional information, please contact Tom Kompier directly at email@example.com.