Saving the Grand Canyon Masked Clubskimmer – Dr. Daun Stansfield’s Mission

Did you know the Brechmorhaga pertinax (B.pertinax) is an extremely rare clubskimmer dragonfly, with only two documented identifications?

What is a Grand Canyon Masked Clubskimmer?

Conservation biology is the “scientific study of the nature and of Earth’s biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction and erosion of biotic interactions.”  Daun Stansfield, Ph.D is the head of the conservation of the Grand Canyon masked clubskimmer, the proposed project is entitled “Phylogeography of Critically Imperiled Grand Canyon Masked Clubskimmer (Brechmorhoga pertinax)”.

Brechmorhaga pertinaxThe Brechmorhaga pertinax (B.pertinax) is an extremely rare clubskimmer dragonfly, with only two documented identifications in Cochise and Coconino County, in the Grand Canyon region of Arizona. The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) has listed the B. pertinax under an S1 status, which may allow them consideration as threatened or endangered according to the Endangered Species Act.

The aim of this project is to characterize the phylogeography and degree of speciation of the isolated B. pertinax populations in the Grand Canyon. According to Dr. Stansfield the specific aim are as follows:

  • Investigate the extent and duration of isolation of Grand Canyon B. pertinax from Mexican populations through molecular genetic analysis.
  • Address the question of sub-speciation and speciation of the Grand Canyon B. pertinax populations at the molecular genetic level.

The Science Behind Conserving the B. pertinax Population

Dr. Stansfield will investigate the historic population structure of B. pertinax in the Grand Canyon to that of the Mexican and Central American populations. After collecting leg samples from different geographical areas, DNA will be extracted using Rainin™ Pipet-Lite LTS, Rainin™ Filter LTS Tips, Simport® Petri dishes, Eppendorf® Centrifuge 5424, and Eppendorf® 5.0 mL tubes, among other products. Mitochondrial and nuclear sequences will be amplified using heterologous primers. Sequence data will be generated from 2 mitochondrial gene regions (cytochrome oxidase I and cytochrome b). Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) will be used to characterize nuclear genetic variation.

Essentially, data analysis will follow both a population aggregation analysis and phylogenetic tree-based approach to evaluate intraspecific variation and determine the degree of speciation between populations. Thus, establish the number of immigration events leading to the Grand Canyon B.pertinax concentration.Daun Stansfield

What’s next?

The main focus of this project is to help preserve the B.pertinax by limiting human presence in their habitat. Dr. Daun Stansfield is currently a professor at CSU San Marcos in the Biology Sciences Department.

She is currently seeking grants to fund her project. If you’re interested in her project or want to know more, contact her directly at dstansfield[at]

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