Differences in perch height and response to intruders for territorial and non-territorial Calopteryx maculata (Odonata: Calopterygidae)


In the damselfly Calopteryx maculata, territorial males court potential mates and guard ovipositing females near the surface of the water. We conducted a survey and an experiment to determine whether there was a relationship between territoriality (site fidelity and agonistic behavior) and perch height. In the survey, males were captured, numbered, and released, and their perch height and location along a stream was noted for two weeks. Mean perch height was positively correlated with total distance travelled and negatively correlated with the number and percentage of times observed at the same site. Males that travelled less than 4 m had a significantly lower mean perch height than males that travelled more than 4 m. We conclude that males with greater site fidelity perch lower than males that travel widely. To test for a relationship between agonistic behavior and perch height, live male and female decoys, and a stick control, were run along a 20 m zip-line at two heights (25 cm and 75 cm), and the responses of resident males were recorded. Resident males that perched low (< 1 m high) approached decoys more often than resident males that perched high, and low-flying decoys were approached more than high-flying decoys. We conclude that territorial males—identified by greater site fidelity and agonistic behavior—perch lower than other males and are particularly responsive to low flying intruders. The benefits and costs of perching low and responding to low-flying intruders are discussed.

Issue section: Original Article

Supplemental material