Sex ratio in Gomphidae (Odonata) at emergence: is there a relationship with water temperature?


Although the sex ratio of Odonata at emergence has received much attention, we are still far from understanding the exact causes of its variability and imbalance. In this paper we studied the sex ratios at emergence in natural populations of two Gomphus species based on samples of exuviae taken from two European lowland rivers. We hypothesized a possible relationship between the water temperature during larval development and the sex ratio at emergence. Sex ratio records exhibited no consistent bias towards one sex but varied between habitats and years in both species. We found correlations between sex ratio and water temperature in the year preceding emergence. Furthermore, the correlation between sex ratios and water temperature was in opposite directions in the two congeneric species, which may be attributed to differences in their voltinisms. We conclude that the effect of water temperature can be mediated through cohort-splitting; temperature-dependent development of minor cohorts, including unequal proportions of males and females due to the faster development of male larvae, affects the sex ratio at emergence. The supposed effect does not cause a long-term consistent bias, but may explain the year-to-year variations.

Issue section: Article