Anisoptera is the first of two volumes on the Odonata in the series Encyclopedia of South American Aquatic Insects. The second will treat the Zygoptera.
The Anisoptera volume encompasses the large dragonfly species. A brief review of the biology of the group includes illustrations of the main morphological features as well as explainations of alternative systems for naming the wing veins and other structures. This will prepare the user of the volume to understand the different names for the same structures that he will encounter in the literature.
The review is then followed by keys to facilitate identification of the adult dragonflies and the known larvae, allowing the user a high probability of identifying his specimens correctly. In addition to anatomical features, the keys include the known ranges of the species, synonyms, and citations of literature in which more information about each individual species can be obtained. These citations are compiled in an extensive bibliography, including titles of the original publications in which descriptions of almost all South American species appeared. Although taxonomic revisions are deliberately avoided, suggestions for additional research are provided where the validity of taxa seems doubtful.
To provide the user with the best possible opportunity to distinguish the species, the keys are richly illustrated with pen and ink drawings of thousands of individual morphological structures arranged in 797 figures. It is certain that significant changes will occur in the systematics of South American dragonflies in the future, and this book should provide the impetus needed to accelerate the revisional work. Meanwhile, it will provide a comprehensive overview of the Anisoptera in South America that is otherwise unavailable to most South American scientists because of the great difficulties in obtaining the hundreds of publications from numerous countries in which the descriptions and revisions of the species appeared. It also provides young entomologists with a basic text for learning what they need to know to work effectively with the Anisoptera of South America and adjacent regions.
From the reviews: 'Students of odonates of South America should be grateful that Heckman has successfully finished this compilation of more than 500 primary publications, and no such work was available for this continent up to now. Heckman's Encyclopedia is far more complete for identification of adults to species level, and also for identification of larval stages' Jan van Tol, Tijdschrift voor Entomologie, Volume 150, 2007. "Heckman ! has provided an excellent compilation of keys to species. It will prove useful to specialists in many areas of science who need to characterize the role of Anisopteran dragonflies in South American habitats. Abundant illustrations of larvae and adults, compiled from many diverse sources, aid readers. ! Primarily intended for specialists, this work will help readers to better understand the environment and to develop strategies for being better stewards of the Earth. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students through professionals/practitioners." (M. K. Harris, CHOICE, Vol. 44 (9), May, 2007)
Introduction.- An appeal for quality in taxonomic work. Scope of the work. Acknowledgements. Literature.- Section 3: Odonata. Key to the suborders. Adults. Larvae.- Section 3, Part 2: Anisoptera. 3.2.1 Morphology. 126.96.36.199 Adult morphology. 188.8.131.52 Larval morphology. 3.2.2 Ecology. 3.2.3 Preservation and examination. 3.2.4 Zoogeography. 3.2.5 Taxonomic problems. 3.2.6 Suggestions for improvement. A note on the figures. 3.2.7 Key to the families of Anisoptera in South America.- Adults. Larvae. Corduliidae. Libellulidae. Austropetaliidae. Aeshnidae. Gomphidae.- Literature.- Index.
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The author, Dr. Charles W. Heckman, has performed ecological research in Laos, Thailand, Germany, Brazil, and the United States. His publications include books on rice field ecology in Thailand and the Pantanal wetland in western Brazil, as well as many monographs and shorter publications on various aspects of biology and environmental sciences. He undertook the preparation of the Encyclopedia of South American Aquatic Insects to produce a reference work with which researchers in South America can identify the species they encounter without having to first complete exhaustive searches of the literature, including papers published on several continents in different languages. The lack of such a tool has long impeded progress in faunal surveys, ecology, and other fields of science. Dr. Heckman's extensive experience identifying aquatic insect species using less than optimal literature has allowed him to develop an ability for recognizing the morphological features most useful for distinguishing one species from another, and this ability comes to the aid of the users of his keys to the South American aquatic insect species.