Development of the concept of 'core resident species' for quality assurance of an insect reserve
Awareness in the eyes of the public is important for involving the wider community in conservation. A dragonfly awareness trail was developed and implemented in the year 2000 at a national botanical garden in South Africa. Such a trail is not likely to always have the same number of dragonfly species either throughout the year or from one year to the next. The aim was to assess dragonfly assemblage changes that occurred along the trail over 3 years, so as to fine-tune expectations that the public may have as regards species to be seen at any particular time. A cumulative species variance for species and speciesenvironmental relations, strongly indicated that certain measured site variables were responsible for the main variation in dragonfly species patterns over time. Habitat requirements of an odonate species may be defined primarily in terms of marginal grasses, floating and submerged vegetation, marginal herbs, sedges and reeds, and pH. Additional variables were percentage shade, exposed rock, marginal forest and water flow characteristics. Both dragonfly species richness and abundance changed over the 3 years. One of the reasons for this was a single, major disturbance, in the form of dredging the reservoir site to reverse ecological succession in 2002. Despite an impact such as this, and after accounting for vagrancy, there were in all 24 'core resident species' still to be seen along the trail from January to May. Another 11 species, including two migrants and one species lost temporarily to dredging disturbance, can be considered only as 'possibilities' on any one visit. Assurance that the 24 core species can be seen in the summer months (although only three in winter) is essential for maintaining the bona fide of such a trail, and hence conservation awareness, in the eyes of the public. © 2006 Springer.