Effects of water mites on the damselfly Ceriagrion tenellum


JOSÉ A.ANDRÉS Departamento de Ecoloxía e Bioloxía Animal, Universidade de Vigo, EUET Forestal, Campus Universitario, 36005 Pontevedra, Spain jaandres@uvigo.es and acordero@uvigo.es


1. Water mite parasitism is expected to have an important effect on damselfly survivorship and reproductive success, because mites drain considerable amounts of body fluids from their hosts. This study tests the effect of water mite parasitism in a marked population of the damselfly Ceriagrion tenellum during 1995 (individuals marked as mature adults) and 1996 (individuals marked as tenerals).

2. Almost all teneral individuals were parasitized (98%) and mites were aggregated strongly on some individuals. Parasite load increased during the season.

3. Parasites had no effect on the probability of recapture of hosts as mature adults. The average daily survival rate of lightly- and heavily-parasitized individuals, estimated with Jolly's stochastic method, did not differ significantly.

4. In 1995 parasites had a significant effect on host mating success. The probability of mating was about 25% lower for heavily-parasitized males than for lightly-parasitized males. Lightly-parasitized males also mated more times than heavily-parasitized males, even if heavily-parasitized males lived longer. In 1996, parasitism did not have an effect on male mating success. In both years mites had no effect on female lifetime mating success.

5. These results indicate that water mite parasitism does not reduce damselfly survivorship, but it could reduce male mating success in some circumstances. Further long-term studies are needed, especially in populations with a lower incidence of parasitism.