Thursday, 11 June 2015

Adventures of Floris Brekelmans on Phu Quoc

A fellow Dutch naturalist, Floris Brekelmans, visited Phu Quoc in April and recorded some interesting Odonata there. Below is a short report of his on the most spectacular find: Podolestes coomansi, which is an addition to the Vietnamese list.


During a three day visit from 11-13 april 2015 to the island of Phu Quoc, I had the opportunity to explore some of the forests and streams in the northern part of the island. These forests are part of the Phu Quoc National Park, which consists of upland primary forests, primary dipterocarp forest, secondary forests, mangrove forests and melaleuca forests. Parts of the latter have been recently turned into palm-plantations and are threatened by other types of cultivation, forest fires and development of touristic settlements. Access tot the Phu Quoc National Park is restricted and only few tracks lead into the forest. One of them is the popular forest walk near to Ganh Dau village, on the north western part of the island. Geen beste kwaliteit, het viel niet mee te fotograferen zonder flitser in het donkere bos.On april 12 I visited the northern part of the National Park, in the surroundings of Ham Rong mountain. 

This forest is accessible by the K7 road to Rach Tram village. Just after crossing the melaleuca forest and at the beginning of the dipterocarp forest, I went off the K7 road in reach for the north-eastern slopes of the Ham Rong mountain. The secondary forest (tree height 10-15 meters, indications of selective cutting, poaching with nets) at sea level is accessible by several foot tracks and - in the dry season - the dry beds of the small seasonal streams leading to Ham Rong mountain.  

Dragonflies were far from abundant, in numbers as well in species. The following species were seen and photographed at the locality: Brachythemis contaminata, Copera marginipes, C. vittata, Lathrecista asiatica, Libellago hyalina, Neurothemis fluctuans, Orchithemis pulcherrima, Podolestes coomansi and Vestalis gracilis. Both Copera species appear to be are new to the island (based on Do et al 2011) and Podolestes coomansi is a new species to Vietnam. This species has recently been discovered in four provinces in Thailand and was formerly only known from the type locality in Malaysia. Lieftinck (1954) and Kosterin & Vikhrev describe the habitat as marshy spots in secondary forest or narrow patches of trees separating wide swamps. On Phu Quoc I found it in a dry bed of a seasonal stream in thick secondary forest. Melaleuca marshes - dry in this time of year - are present at a distance of 500 meters southwards. Kosterin & Vikhrev suggest the larvae of the species may tolerate seasonal drying of the habitat.


Podolestes coomansi male, courtesy of Floris Brekelmans

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