Egg hatching phenology and success of Lestes macrostigma in two temporary brackish ponds


Although a full life cycle approach is optimally needed to make conservation decisions, the egg stage is often neglected for insect species of special conservation interest. Water management and related abiotic factors are relevant factors to consider in aquatic species. Lestes macrostigma is a threatened damselfly restricted to temporary brackish waters. Here we provide detailed information on its hatching success and phenology in two natural field populations. Shoots containing fresh egg clutches of L. macrostigma were sampled in late June, just after the oviposition period. In the fall, shoots were separately placed in plastic boxes in two ponds in southern France. Examination of eggs indicated L. macrostigma overwinters at an early embryonic stage. The following spring we monitored hatching in detail. Hatching began on 15 March in both ponds and ended on 27 April. Hatching was synchronized, with half of the eggs hatching within five days in the first pond and 14 days in the second pond. Lower water temperatures decreased hatching success and likely also delayed hatching. Embedment of shoots in ice increased egg mortality. Based on our data, wildlife managers are encouraged to maintain water levels high during winter to reduce the risk of freezing of L. macrostigma eggs.

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