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KANUTI: Dragonfly Survey Nets New Speciesfor Alaska
Alaska Region, July 14, 2009
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An Ocellated Emerald, a new species for Alaska, was discovered in Kanuti Refuge. The name
An Ocellated Emerald, a new species for Alaska, was discovered in Kanuti Refuge. The name "ocellated" refers to the spots on the dragonfly's side, a unique identifying characteristic. Photo by Bob Armstrong. - Photo Credit: n/a
Alaska's first documented Ocellated Emerald was captured in this bog in the Kanuti Refuge. June 23, 2009. FWS photo by Lisa Saperstein.
Alaska's first documented Ocellated Emerald was captured in this bog in the Kanuti Refuge. June 23, 2009. FWS photo by Lisa Saperstein. - Photo Credit: n/a

Five dragonfly hunters, including John Hudson and Bob Armstrong, co-authors of the field guide "Dragonflies of Alaska," recently flew north of the Arctic Circle to Bettles within the Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge to document dragonfly and damselfly species. Little is known about insect distribution, including dragonflies, in Alaska, particularly in remote northern areas. The crew was targeting Sphagnum moss bogs, a habitat that supports several species of dragonflies.

At the first site south of the Bettles float pond new dragonfly species previously not documented for Kanuti Refuge were captured including a Delicate Emerald (Somatachlora franklini) and a Kennedy's Emerald (S. kennedyi). The Kennedy's Emerald was not known to occur in Alaska until summer 2008, when Hudson and Armstrong found one in a bog south of Fairbanks.

On June 23, the crew flew to a lake in the heart of Kanuti Refuge for a 3-day survey of nearby small bogs. The first day yielded a prize -- an Ocellated Emerald dragonfly (S. minor), the first record of the species in Alaska! The nearest previously documented location for this species was in Canada's Yukon Territory near Whitehorse. This is the second time a new state record has been found within the refuge, the first being a Prairie Bluet damselfly (Coenagrion angulatum) captured at Kanuti Lake in 2004. Another notable find was the Canada Whiteface (Leucorrhinia proxima), first found outside of Canada in 2003 in both Maine and Alaska. An intriguing sighting was another Emerald that Hudson claimed looked different from any he had captured previously. He suspected it was a Treeline Emerald (S. sahlbergi), a species that prefers deep, cold ponds dominated by aquatic moss. We were unable to catch a sample on this trip, leaving something to aspire to on the next visit.

The Bettles trip included a public educational component as nine people attended an evening presentation by Hudson on June 22, a good turnout since the year-round population of Bettles and nearby Evansville is only 30 people! This project was funded by a Fish and Wildlife Service Challenge Grant between Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge, Hudson and Armstrong, Friends of Creamer's Field, Nancy and Jim DeWitt, the University of Alaska Museum of the North, Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges and the Alaska Bird Observatory.


Contact Info: Joanna Fox, (907) 456-0330, joanna_fox@fws.gov



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