Ontogenetic colour changes and male polymorphism in Mnais andersoni (Odonata: Calopterygidae)


Colour-based traits are widespread in flying species due to the importance of visual perception in their communication. Ontogenetic colour changes and reversible physiological colours occur in some species and are used as communication signals to conspecifics. The genus Mnais (Zygoptera: Calopterygidae) shows both genetic colour polymorphism and age-related colour changes, making challenging even the identification of species. Here we study three Chinese populations of Mnais andersoni during one month by mark-resighting methods. We describe the ontogenetic body and wing colour changes of male morphs (orange-winged and hyaline-winged) and females. With maturity, thoracic colour changes from metallic green to copper. The initially transparent wings of the hyaline winged males and females became light amber with age, while the orange-winged males show this colour since emergence to maturity. Whitish pruinosity covered all thorax in orange-winged males, while it remained limited to the ventral part of the thorax in hyaline-winged males and females. Hyaline-winged males presented less abdominal pruinosity than the rest of individuals. Our observations suggest that male morphs of M. andersoni are analogous to other species of the genus.

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