Focus on African freshwaters: Hotspots of dragonfly diversity and conservation concern
This is the first continent-wide overview of insect diversity and status sufficiently fine-scaled to be used in conservation planning. We analyze patterns of richness and the conservation status of African dragonflies and damselflies (Insecta: Odonata), commonly referred to as dragonflies, to determine threats to species and freshwater habitats, location of diversity hotspots, necessary conservation actions, and research gaps. Major centers of dragonfly diversity in Africa are tropical forest areas that include highlands. Most threatened species - as classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature global Red List - are concentrated in highlands from Kenya to South Africa (together with the Cape Floristic Region), western Africa (including mountains on the Cameroon-Nigeria border), and Ethiopia. Currently available knowledge can be applied throughout Africa's freshwater systems to help minimize or mitigate the impact of future development actions, allowing dragonflies to act as "guardians of the watershed". The private sector can be advised to safeguard sensitive habitats and species when selecting sites for development. Key sites and species for monitoring can be identified by checking the distribution of threatened species at www.iucnredlist.org. © The Ecological Society of America.