Forest edges and their effects on the arrival of dragonflies at north-temperate experimental ponds


The matrix, an environment in the landscape that individuals move through but do not reside in, can affect species dispersal and the arrival of individuals at habitat patches. Elements around this matrix that provide refuge or resources may shape the arrival of animals at habitat patches, even when those patches are equivalent in quality. Adult dragonflies (Odonata: Anisoptera) frequently use open terrestrial environments during movement and dispersal in north-temperate regions; however, they can also roost along forest edges. Because of the potential value of forest edges to adult dragonflies, we tested whether pond proximity (i. e., connectivity) to multiple forest edges was positively related to the abundance or diversity of arriving dragonflies. We observed dragonflies arriving at 9 experimental pond sites located within an open field landscape in Ontario, Canada. Experimental ponds differed in their distance to source ponds and to forest edges, a potential refuge for dragonflies.
We found no effect of connectivity to forest edges or distance to source ponds on the abundance or diversity of dragonflies arriving at a site. Dragonfly dispersal was therefore not limited at the spatial scale of our study (<305 m to source ponds). In addition, dragonflies did not seem to discriminate among sites based on the amount of nearby forest edge, although all sites within the generally open landscape had at least some forest edge in close proximity (10 – 79 m). Our results provide greater insight regarding the decisions that dragonflies make in response to landscape elements while dispersing to reproductive habitats.

Issue section: Original article