Atlas goldenring (Cordulegaster princeps)

Male Atlas goldenring
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Atlas goldenring fact file

Atlas goldenring description

GenusCordulegaster (1)

Also referred to as spiketails and biddies, golden-ringed dragonflies (Cordulegastridae) are large black dragonflies with generally bright yellow rings more or less encircling their abdomen, depending of the species (2) (3). The Atlas goldenring (Cordulegaster princeps) exhibits wide abdominal yellow rings, possesses conspicuous yellow markings on the thorax and the head and has large green eyes. Males and females are similar in appearance but females are larger (2).

Male length: 75 - 86 mm (2)
Female length: 79-87 mm (2)
Male length of abdomen: 56 - 65 mm (2)
Female length of abdomen: 60 - 66 mm (2)
Male hindwing: 45 - 49 mm (2)
Female hindwing: 47 - 53 mm (2)

Atlas goldenring biology

Virtually nothing has been recorded of the Atlas goldenring’s biology and behaviour, but this may be inferred from what is known about C. boltonii, a structurally similar European relative. The eggs hatch three to six weeks after egg deposition and the larval period should last 2 to 3 years, perhaps more at the highest altitudes. It should include 12 to 14 stadia. After metamorphosis and emergence, adults, which are, like other Odonata species, generalised, opportunistic feeders, feed on flying insects. Males don't establish territories but patrol over long distances along river edges, searching for reproductive females, and stand quite often on herbs or branches exposed to the sun. Females are generally hidden and are much more scarcely observed than males. They lay by driving their eggs in the sandy sediments of rivers and brooks through a rhythmic vertical flight, distinctive of golden-ringed dragonflies (4).


Atlas goldenring range

A Moroccan endemic, the Atlas goldenring is scattered across the Middle and High Atlas ranges (1).


Atlas goldenring habitat

The Atlas goldenring is found in and around mountain brooks between 700 and 2,500 metres above sea level (1).


Atlas goldenring status

The Atlas goldenring is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened


Atlas goldenring threats

The small, fragmented populations of the rare Atlas goldenring are threatened by the growing human population within their range, and the associated overgrazing by livestock, forest destruction, water pollution and water extraction for human use. Further, drying up of brooks is predicted in the future, due to climatic change (global warming) (1).


Atlas goldenring conservation

There are currently no conservation measures targeting the Atlas goldenring, but there is a need to preserve and restore forests, springs and brooks, maintain water quality, and control levels of water harnessing for irrigation (1).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.


Authenticated (18/12/2006) by Jean-Pierre Boudot, CNRS, Université Henri Poincaré Nancy I, France.



A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
An abrupt physical change from the larval to the adult form.
An area occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a colony.
Part of the body located near the head in animals. In insects, the three segments between the head and the abdomen, each of which has a pair of legs.


  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2011)
  2. Dijkstra, K.D.B. and Lewington, R. (2006) Field Guide to the Dragonflies of Britain and Europe. British Wildlife Publishing, Gillingham.
  3. Dragonflies and Damselflies in Languedoc (September, 2006)
  4. Grand, D. and Boudot, J.P. (2006) Les Libellules de France, Belgique et Luxembourg. Editions Parthénope, Mèze.

Image credit

Male Atlas goldenring  
Male Atlas goldenring

© Jean-Pierre Boudot

Jean-Pierre Boudot
Université Henri Poincaré Nancy I
Faculté des Sciences
Boulevard des Aiguillettes
BP 239
Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy Cedex


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