Behavioral Responses to Models in relation to the Visual Communication System in Adult Dragonflies (Odonata: Anisoptera)

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Biology | Life Sciences


James Poff, Biology


Adult odonates need a specific mate-recognition system that allows them to recognize reproductively receptive conspecifics of the opposite sex and potential competitors of the same sex. This recognition is based primarily on visual cues, which include size, flight style, color, and pattern. These visual cues help adults to avoid wasting energy. In this study, I chose to focus on the recognition of males by other males by use of color and pattern cues. I used sculpted, painted models to elicit responses from living dragonflies in the field in order to determine the key visual elements necessary for male-male recognition in certain species of adult dragonflies. I tested responses to several different species, including three species within the same genus, Libellula luctuosa, Libellula pulchella, and Libellula quadrimaculata, a similarly sized species, Ladona Julia, a larger species, Anax junius, and a smaller species, Leucorrhinia intacta. The models were systematically modified to test all conspecific and interspecific responses to complete, detailed models with wings, non-detailed models with wings, detailed models without wings, and detailed models with interspecific wings. I observed all reactions to these modified models in twenty-minute trials and determined that the presence and appearance of wings play a key role in visual communication and recognition. In addition, I concluded that it is necessary for the distinction between models to be more pronounced for species that are more similar in appearance in order for discrimination to occur.