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Checklist of Odonata from Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Charles Muise, Keith R. Langdon, Rebecca P. Shiflett, David Trently, Audrey Hoff, Paul Super, Adriean Mayor, and Becky J. Nichols

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 6, Special Issue 1 (2007): 207–214

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1St. George's Episcopal School, 103 Birch St., Milner GA, 30257. 2Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 1314 Cherokee Orchard Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. 3Discover Life in America, Inc., 1314 Cherokee Orchard Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. 4Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center, PO Box 357, Lake Junaluska, NC 28745. *Corresponding author - Checklist of Odonata from Great Smoky Mountains National Park Charles Muise1, Keith R. Langdon2, Rebecca P. Shifl ett3, David Trently3, Audrey Hoff 3, Paul Super4, Adriean Mayor2, and Becky J. Nichols2,* Abstract - The fauna and fl ora of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is being systematically studied and documented for the first time as part of the Smokies’ All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI). With direction from scientific authorities and Park staff, a team of citizen volunteers has undertaken a survey of odonates (dragonfl ies and damselfl ies). The survey is focused on adults and includes curated specimens, catch-and-release records, and reliable sight identifications. To date, 93 taxa (63 dragonfl ies, 30 damselfl ies) are reported from the Park. However, the habitat-, geographic-, and temporal-survey coverage is far from complete, and records from neighboring areas suggest the Park may contain more than 130 odonate species. All of the information is being stored in the online ATBI database. Introduction Many formal Odonata (dragonfl ies, damselfl ies) checklists are available by state (e.g., Cruden and Gode 2000, Johnson and Valley 2005, Tennessen et al. 1995), but few lists are published where baseline inventory data are needed for conservation planning, such as in managed natural areas (Bried 2005). About 18% of the Odonata in the US are globally ranked as “vulnerable” or “imperiled” by The Nature Conservancy/NatureServe (Master et al. 2000), and as a group, they are ecologically sensitive and face numerous human threats (Richter et al. 1997). The southern Appalachian region is known to have rare and endemic odonate species (Dunkle 2000), as well as species at the southern limit of their continental distribution. Here we report preliminary results of the first comprehensive survey for adult odonates in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). The survey is part of the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI), a project started in 1999 with the ambitious goal of discovering all species in the Park and documenting their abundance, distribution, phenology, and habitat use. Organized and led by the non-profit Discover Life in America (DLIA), a partner with GSMNP, the ATBI program recruits citizen volunteers and students who work with Park staff to make scientific discoveries, provide unique educational experiences, and foster reserve stewardship. 207 The Great Smoky Mountains National Park All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory: A Search for Species in Our Own Backyard 2007 Southeastern Naturalist Special Issue 1:207–214 208 Southeastern Naturalist Special Issue 1 As the largest fully protected reserve in the upland southeast region, GSMNP is committed to surveying for all its biotic resources; yet until recently, there have been few comprehensive surveys of invertebrate groups. Several odonate species were added to the Park list during early surveys (Cook 1947) and brief collecting trips led by The Dragonfl y Society of the Americas. Most odonate records have come from independent efforts by odonate specialists over the past several decades, and from the Park’s long-term aquatic macroinvertebrate monitoring program (started in 1992). However, records from literature accounts and museum holdings were not compiled until as recently as 2004, when the Park odonate list included only 35 species. This incomplete list and the mission of the ATBI prompted a group of interested parties to conduct the first comprehensive inventory of Odonata in GSMNP. The group was dubbed “Team Odonate” and included DLIA volunteers, Park staff in the Resource Management and Science Division, Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont (GSMIT) staff, and student interns from the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center at Purchase Knob. This paper provides a preliminary checklist of Odonata in GSMNP, with emphasis on activities of Team Odonate. The objectives of Team Odonate are to maximize the Park species list, expand knowledge of species’ distributions and phenology, and provide educational experiences. Study area Great Smoky Mountains National Park contains ≈2200 km2 straddling eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. The Park receives uniformly distributed precipitation regulated by maritime tropical air masses that move northeastward from the Gulf of Mexico. The precipitation regime (120–250 cm per year) and topographic variation (elevation range = 300–2000 m above sea level) promote a wide array of aquatic and wetland habitats. The Park contains over 3500 km of permanent streams and rivers. There also are numerous small wetlands in the mountain valleys, countless seeps, and scattered ephemeral ponds perched atop karst geology; natural wetlands in the southern Appalachians can support a high diversity of rare species in the southeastern US (Weakley and Schafale 1995). Artificially occurring wetlands such as small farm impoundments occupy portions of the larger valleys in the Park. Two large reservoirs were established in the mid-twentieth century along the southwest edge.The reservoirs have embayed former low-elevation valleys, destroying long sections of natural streams and rivers and presumably wetlands. Tributaries empty into the embayed sections of these reservoirs, creating unique habitat opportunities for odonates and other aquatic biota. Much of the present-day reserve was logged prior to National Park designation in 1934. See Jenkins (2007) for a description of the Park's vegetation communities. Methods Wetlands, ponds, and upland meadows, and to a lesser extent, streams, rivers, and reservoirs, were sampled throughout the Park starting in late 2007 C. Muise et al. 209 2004. Study sites were visited repeatedly to account for species’ seasonality and maximize chances for detection. Repeat visits over the flight season helped establish tentative flight periods in the Park, although we felt this information was too premature to report here. Fifteen sites were sampled at least once by five to eight observers at a time. Sites in Cades Cove and Tremont (both in the northwest quadrant of the Park) were sampled more frequently with the assistance of student volunteers (see below). Four sites in Cades Cove were visited at least 15 times during the period of November 2004 through October 2005. Overall, an estimated 75% of the survey effort was concentrated in the Tennessee portion of the Park, especially in the west end. More than 100 middle school and high school students participated in the field survey. They worked mostly at wetlands and ponds in the Cades Cove and Tremont area. Altogether, these youth groups joined ≈40 field excursions over a two-year period. High school interns stationed at Purchase Knob sampled the lesser-known North Carolina side of the Park, especially sections of the Oconaluftee River. Most species were identified by sight or following capture, often with the aid of close-focusing binoculars and recently published field guides (e.g., Abbott 2005, Dunkle 2000, Lam 2004). Odonates that were difficult to identify, or possibly new to the Park, were euthanized or chilled, later identified, and released. Specimens were preserved in acetone (≈12-hr submersion), placed in clear envelopes, and labeled. Identifications of prepared specimens were made using standard keys (Needham et al. 2000, Westfall and May 1996). Vouchers of most species collected by Team Odonate are currently housed at GSMIT and Park offices prior to accession into the Park museum. All records were entered into the Interim ATBI Database developed by the United States Geological Survey and GSMNP. This system allows easy retrieval of geographic, statistical, phenological, and reference data about each entry, species, or higher taxonomic group. The database also was used to store ancillary information such as weather notes taken each survey, site habitat features, and site UTM coordinates. Results Reliable records now exist for 93 species of Odonata (63 dragonfl ies, 30 damselfl ies) in GSMNP (Table 1). ATBI Team Odonate added 17 species (7 dragonfl ies, 10 damselfl ies) to the Park list during two field seasons (2004, 2005). Additional data were consolidated from the GSMNP museum collection, which contained odonate specimens from as early as 1935, and from contributions by Carl Cook, Ken Tennessen, Jerrell Daigle, Bryan Reece, Dan Johnson, and Steve Fraley (larval samples). The combination of systematic field surveys and compiling historical records has nearly tripled the Park's odonate species list since 2004. Noteworthy species on the list include: Lanthus parvulus (Northern pygmy clubtail), a new record and a species at the southern limit of its range in the Park, and Somatochlora 210 Southeastern Naturalist Special Issue 1 Table 1. Preliminary checklist of Odonata from Great Smoky Mountains National Park (current as of April 2007). New records obtained by Team Odonate are indicated with an asterisk (*). Scientific name Common name Anisoptera (dragonfl ies) Petaluridae Tachopteryx thoreyi Hagen Gray petaltail Aeshnidae Aeshna constricta Say* Lance-tipped darner A. umbrosa Walker Shadow darner Anax junius Drury Common green darner Anax longipes Hagen Comet darner Basiaeschna janata Say Springtime darner Boyeria grafiana Williamson Ocellated darner B. vinosa Say Fawn darner Epiaeschna heros F. Swamp darner Gomphidae Arigomphus villosipes Selys Unicorn clubtail Dromogomphus spinosus Selys Black-shouldered spinyleg Gomphus adelphus Selys Mustached clubtail G. exilis Selys Lancet clubtail G. lividus Selys Ashy clubtail G. parvidens Currie Piedmont clubtail G. rogersi Gloyd Sable clubtail Hagenius brevistylus Selys Dragonhunter Lanthus parvulus Selys* Northern pygmy clubtail Lanthus vernalis Carle Southern pygmy clubtail Ophiogomphus incurvatus alleghaniensis Carle Appalachian snaketail O. mainensis Packard Maine snaketail O. rupinsulensis Walsh Rusty snaketail Stylogomphus albistylus Hagen Eastern least clubtail Stylurus scudderi Selys Zebra clubtail Cordulegastridae Cordulegaster bilineata Carle Brown spiketail C. erronea Hagen Tiger spiketail C. maculata Selys Twin-spotted spiketail C. obliqua Say Arrowhead spiketail Macromiidae Didymops transversa Say Stream cruiser Macromia alleghaniensis Williamson Allegheny river cruiser M. illinoiensis Walsh Swift river cruiser Corduliidae Epitheca cynosura Say Common baskettail E. princeps Hagen* Prince baskettail Helocordulia uhleri Selys* Uhler’s sundragon Neurocordulia virginiensis Davis Cinnamon shadowdragon N. yamaskanensis Provancher Stygian shadowdragon Somatochlora elongata Scudder* Ski-tailed emerald S. linearis Hagen Mocha emerald S. provocans Calvert Tree-top emerald S. tenebrosa Say Clamp-tipped emerald S. williamsoni Walker Williamson’s emerald Libellulidae Celithemis fasciata Kirby Banded pennant Erythemis simplicicollis simplicicollis Say Eastern pondhawk Ladona deplanata Rambur Blue corporal 2007 C. Muise et al. 211 Table 1, continued. Scientific name Common name Libellula axilena Westwood Bar-winged skimmer L. cyanea F. Spangled skimmer L. fl avida Rambur* Yellow-sided skimmer L. incesta Hagen Slaty skimmer L. luctuosa Burmeister Widow skimmer L. pulchella Drury Twelve-spotted skimmer L. semifasciata Burmeister Painted skimmer L. vibrans F. Great blue skimmer Pachydiplax longipennis Burmeister Blue dasher Pantala fl avescens F. Wandering glider P. hymenaea Say Spot-winged glider Perithemis tenera Say Eastern amberwing Plathemis lydia Drury Common whitetail Sympetrum ambiguum Rambur Blue-faced meadowhawk S. rubicundulum Say Ruby meadowhawk S. semicinctum Say* Band-winged meadowhawk S. vicinum Hagen Autumn meadowhawk Tramea carolina L. Carolina saddlebags T. lacerata Hagen Black saddlebags Zygoptera (damselfl ies) Calopterygidae Calopteryx amata Hagen Superb jewelwing C. angustipennis Selys Appalachian jewelwing C. maculata Beauvois Ebony jewelwing Hetaerina americana F. American rubyspot Lestidae Lestes australis Walker Southern spreadwing L. congener Hagen* Spotted spreadwing L. eurinus Say Amber-winged spreadwing L.forcipatus Rambur Sweetfl ag spreadwing L. rectangularis Say Slender spreadwing L. vigilax Hagen Swamp spreadwing Coenagrionidae Amphiagrion saucium Burmeister Eastern red damsel Argia apicalis Say Blue-fronted dancer A. fumipennis fumipennis Burmeister* Smoky-winged dancer A. fumipennis violacea Hagen Violet dancer A. moesta Hagen Powdered dancer A. tibialis Rambur* Blue-tipped dancer A. translata Hagen* Dusky dancer Chromagrion conditum Hagen Aurora damsel Enallagma aspersum Hagen Azure bluet E. basidens Calvert* Double-striped bluet E. civile Hagen Familiar bluet E. divagans Selys* Turquoise bluet E. exsulans Hagen* Stream bluet E. geminatum Kellicott* Skimming bluet E. signatum Hagen Orange bluet E. traviatum Selys* Slender bluet E. vesperum Calvert* Vesper bluet Ischnura hastata Say Citrine forktail I. posita Hagen Fragile forktail I. verticalis Say Eastern forktail 212 Southeastern Naturalist Special Issue 1 williamsoni (Williamson's emerald) and S. provocans (Tree-top emerald), last reported from the Park in 1947 (by Carl Cook). We used county records from the Odonata Central database (Abbott 2006) to compile a list of potential species and estimate the completeness of the Park list. We included all counties within the Park (Blount, Sevier, and Cocke in Tennessee; Swain and Haywood in North Carolina), as well as the counties that border these. Additionally, we included counties along the Tennessee/North Carolina border north to Virginia that share some of the Park physiography. Records from 26 counties were gathered, resulting in 41 species of odonates that have not been documented in the Park. Based on this approach, the expected number of species in the Park may exceed 130, suggesting the current list (Table 1) is approximately two-thirds complete. Dot maps of the Park distribution of most species can be displayed by using the ATBI database, searchable through the DLIA website (www.DLIA. org). These distributions reveal that, as expected, some species were widespread while others were found at only one or two sites. The lower-gradient streams in the west end of the Park provide unique habitat opportunities and therefore support a relatively rich odonate fauna. The only odonates observed at elevations above 1000 m were late-season migrants foraging over open areas and forest canopies. Adult odonates are present in the Park at least nine months out of the year. Few damselfl y species were reported after early September during the Team Odonate surveys. Discussion More data are required before we can make any reasonable assessment of each species’ Park-based distribution, phenology, and habitat associations. Adult odonate distributions can show strong compositional asymmetry even at local spatial scales (Bried and Ervin 2005), thus it is reasonable to expect strong compositional variation across the spacious and habitat rich Park area. Survey efforts in the eastern half of the Park remains sparse, especially in the remote tributaries connected to Fontana Reservoir. Several wetland types have not yet been surveyed for odonates, and new wetland types continue to be discovered in the Park. In general, large streams and rivers and the North Carolina side of the Park are the most understudied areas with regard to odonates. Our preliminary information on species composition, distributions, fl ight periods, and habitat use has exposed some knowledge gaps and set a benchmark for long-term monitoring efforts that will help inform conservation planning in the Park. The current list consolidates new data with previous efforts by Park staff to correct misidentifications and uncover old museum and literature records for Park odonates. A new goal for Team Odonate is to reach the estimated 130+ potential species. The presence this many species would rival the size of some statewide Odonata lists, such as that of Mississippi (R.S. Krotzer and J.T. Bried, The Nature Conservancy, Albany NY, pers. comm.), further testifying to the Park’s high biodiversity value. 2007 C. Muise et al. 213 The project has benefited greatly by combining efforts of Park staff, partners, youth groups, and local ATBI citizen scientists. The diverse knowledge and enthusiasm of all volunteers has resulted in a tremendous increase in odonate information for the Park in a short period of time. While many of the participants had limited odonate identification skills and experience, recent publication of user-friendly texts allowed for even novice participants to identify many species. By inspiring young scientists and encouraging stewardship within the local community, the benefits of this citizen science project are multiplying fast. Acknowledgments We are grateful for the contributions of Jeanie Hilten, former Director of Discover Life in America, for organizing and participating in field activities. Carl Cook provided critical identifications of a difficult taxon, and both Michael Kunze and Chuck Parker were generous with database assistance. Little would have been accomplished without the active participation of the many students and citizens involved in this project. Jason Bried and two anonymous reviewers provided helpful criticism of earlier drafts of the manuscript. Literature Cited Abbott, J.C. 2005. Dragonfl ies and Damselfl ies of Texas and the South-central United States. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. Abbott, J.C. 2006. Odonata Central: An Online Resource for Odonates of North America. Austin, TX. Available online at Accessed March 2006. Bried, J.T. 2005. Species of adult Odonata from three natural areas in Mississippi. Journal of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences 50:231–232. Bried, J.T., and G.N. Ervin. 2005. Distribution of adult Odonata among localized wetlands in east-central Mississippi. Southeastern Naturalist 4:731-744. Cook, C. 1947. Notes on the genus Somatochlora collected in Kentucky and Tennessee. Entomological News 58:127–131. Cruden, R.W., and O.J. Gode. 2000. The Odonata of Iowa. Bulletin of American Odonatology 6:13–48. Dunkle, S.W. 2000. Dragonfl ies through Binoculars: A Field Guide to Dragonfl ies of North America. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. Jenkins, M.A. 2007. Vegetation Communities of the Great Smokies Mountains. Southeastern Naturalist 6 (Special Issue 1):35–56. Johnson, J., and S. Valley. 2005. The Odonata of Oregon. Bulletin of American Odonatology 8:100–122. Lam, E. 2004. Damselfl ies of the Northeast: A Guide to the Species of Eastern Canada and the Northeastern United States. Biodiversity Books, Forest Hills, NY. Master, L.L., B.A. Stein, L.S. Kutner, and G.A. Hammerson. 2000. Vanishing assets: Conservation status of US species. Pp. 93–108, In B.A. Stein, L.S. Kutner, and J.S. Adams (Eds.). Precious Heritage: The Status of Biodiversity in the United States. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. 214 Southeastern Naturalist Special Issue 1 Needham, J.G., M.J. Westfall, Jr., and M.L. May. 2000. Dragonfl ies of North America (Revised Edition). Scientific Publishers. Gainesville, FL. Richter, B.D., D.P. Braun, M.A. Mendelson, and L.L. Master. 1997. Threats to imperiled freshwater fauna. Conservation Biology 11:1081–1093. Tennessen, K.J., J.D. Harper, and S.K. Krotzer. 1995. The distribution of Odonata in Alabama. Bulletin of American Odonatology 3:49–74. Weakley, A.S., and M.P. Schafale. 1995. Non-alluvial wetlands of the Southern Blue Ridge: Diversity in a threatened ecosystem.Pp. 163–187, In C.C. Trettin, W.M. Aust, and J. Wisniewski (Eds.). Wetlands of the Interior Southeastern United States. Kluwer Academic Press, Boston, MA. Westfall, M.J., Jr., and M.L. May. 1996. Damselfl ies of North America. Scientific Publishers, Gainesville, FL.