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Thermal adaptation affects interactions between a range-expanding and a native odonate species


Frank Suhling, Institut für Geoökologie, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Langer Kamp 19c, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany. E-mail:


1. Increasing temperature and invading species may interact in their effects on communities. In this study, we investigated how rising temperatures alter larval interactions between a naturally range-expanding dragonfly, Crocothemis erythraea, and a native northern European species, Leucorrhinia dubia. Initial studies revealed that C. erythraea grow up to 3.5 times faster than L. dubia at temperatures above 16 °C. As a result, we hypothesised that divergent temperature responses would lead to rapid size differences between coexisting larvae and, consequently, to asymmetric intraguild predation at higher ambient temperatures.

2. Mortality and growth rates were measured in interaction treatments (with both species present) and non-interaction controls (one species present) at four different temperature regimes: at an ambient temperature representative of central Germany, where both species overlap in distribution, and at temperatures increased by 2, 4 and 6 °C.

3. The mortality of C. erythraea did not differ between treatment and control. In contrast, mortality of L. dubia remained similar over all temperatures in the controls, but increased with temperature in the presence of the other species and was significantly higher there than in the controls. We concluded that L. dubia suffered asymmetric intraguild predation, particularly at increased temperature. Reduced growth rate of L. dubia in the interaction treatment at higher temperatures also suggested asymmetric competition for prey in the first phase of the experiment.

4. The results imply that the range expansion of C. erythraea may cause reduction in population size of syntopic L. dubia when temperature rises by more than 2 °C. The consequences for future range patterns, as well as other factors that may influence the interaction in nature, are discussed.