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Two new species added to the global list of invertebrates after discovery on Al Wathba Wetland Reserve

posted on 27/05/2016: 2640 views

Two new species have been added to the global list of invertebrates after they were unexpectedly discovered on Abu Dhabi's Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, during regular seasonal wildlife trapping carried out by researchers at the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD). The Gasteruptiid Wasp (Gasteruption alwathbaense), measuring 11.3mm, and the Dance Fly (Drapetis wathabiensis), measuring 2-3mm, have now been added to the list of hundreds of invertebrates already recorded on the reserve.

"This discovery further enhances Al Wathba Wetland Reserve's status as a biodiversity hotspot that must remain protected. EAD is proud of this discovery and will continue to ensure the effective management and monitoring of species, water quality and vegetation on the reserve," said Dr. Shaikha Al Dhaheri, Executive Director of the Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD.

The new Gasteruptiid wasp (Gasteruption alwathbaense) will have its genetic data analysis and DNA sequencing released through the Barcode of Life Data System (BOLD). It is one of four Gasteruptiid wasp species described in the UAE.

Dr. Andreas Stark from the German Entomological Institute, Senckenberg (Muncheberg, Germany) has identified the Dance Fly (Drapetis wathbaiensis) and confirmed the species.

Dr. Salim Javed, Acting Director of Terrestrial Biodiversity has suggested the name for the Dance Fly, Drapetis wathabiensis ‘as it draws on its origin of first discovery, cementing Al Wathba in the history books for species identification'.

The Al Wathba Wetland Reserve (45 minutes away from Abu Dhabi and covers a total area of 5 km2) was declared a protected area by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1998. Sheikh Zayed's vision was to provide a suitable habitat for migratory birds and a breeding area for the Greater flamingo. The reserve has been managed by EAD ever since.

As a result of its ‘protected' status, Al Wathba has since become a safe breeding haven for the Greater Flamingo, which bred successfully for the first time on the reserve in 1998. Today, the reserve supports a rich variety of wildlife including 238 species of invertebrates, 11 mammals, 10 reptiles and more than 250 species of birds. The reserve is also rich in plant species, with 37 species having been documented.

In 2013, Al Wathba Wetland Reserve was recognised internationally and declared as a Ramsar site, the first in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. With this recognition, this site joins a prestigious list of over 2,000 other internationally recognised wetlands around the world. - Emirates News Agency, WAM -


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