Neotropical Entomology

, Volume 48, Issue 4, pp 552–560 | Cite as

The Zygoptera/Anisoptera Ratio (Insecta: Odonata): a New Tool for Habitat Alterations Assessment in Amazonian Streams

  • J M B Oliveira-JuniorEmail author
  • L Juen
Ecology, Behavior and Bionomics


The accumulation of scientific knowledge is far outstripped by the rate of environmental disturbance from human activities in aquatic habitats. This highlights the need to develop effective proxy measures of aquatic biodiversity that can demonstrate changes in communities associated with human activities. We evaluated whether the relative abundance and species richness of Anisoptera and Zygoptera can be used as a tool to measure environmental impacts on Amazonian streams. Adult of Anisoptera and Zygoptera were sampled in 50 Amazonian streams, in the municipality of Paragominas (Pará state), Brazil, using an entomological handnet. The physical features of each stream were evaluated using an index of environmental integrity (HII). We collected a total of 1769 Odonata specimens, representing 97 species (56 were Zygoptera and 41 were Anisoptera). Habitat modification resulted in an inversion in the proportional abundance and species richness of Anisoptera and Zygoptera, where Zygoptera diversity decreased with the loss of habitat integrity, whereas Anisoptera diversity increased with habitat disturbance. A decline of 0.1 in the habitat integrity index score resulted in an increase of approximately 13 individuals and 11 species of Anisoptera, with the exact opposite effect observed for the Zygoptera. In summary, the Odonata proved to be a useful model for the assessment of Amazonian streams, with sites where more than 54% of the Odonata species were Zygoptera being classified as preserved, and those dominated by Anisoptera species (> 59%) being considered degraded. This approach has clear applications for environmental impact assessments, as it reduces the influence of sampling effort and collector experience on assessment outcomes, and does not rely upon specialist knowledge, given that members of the two suborders are easily distinguished from one and other in the field.


Amazon biomonitoring dragonflies damselflies environmental change lotic systems 



We are grateful to Dr. Leandro Brasil for assistance with the collection of biological material and Nelson Pinto for his help in identifying the Anisoptera; Frederico Lencioni for confirming the identification of the Zygoptera; Dra. Sheyla Couceiro, Dra. Joana Darc Batista, Dra. Karina Dias da Silva, and Dra. Karina Schmidt Furieri for invaluable suggestions on early versions of this manuscript; and Dr. Erlane Cunha for kindly drawing the map. We are grateful to the Dr. Alistair John Campbell for language revision. We would also like to thank the farmers and rural worker unions of Paragominas and all collaborating private landowners for their support. LJ (process: 307597/2016-4) is funded continuously by CNPq productivity grants.

Authors’ contributions

LJ and JMBOJ planned, designed, executed fieldwork, conducted analyses, and wrote the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Sociedade Entomológica do Brasil 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Ciências e Tecnologia das ÁguasUniv Federal do Oeste do ParáSantarémBrasil
  2. 2.Lab de Ecologia e Conservação, Instituto de Ciências BiológicasUniv Federal do ParáBelémBrasil

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