Ecological traps for dragonflies in a cemetery: the attraction of Sympetrum species (Odonata: Libellulidae) by horizontally polarizing black gravestones
Article first published online: 17 JUN 2007
Volume 52, Issue 9, pages 1700–1709, September 2007
How to Cite
HORVÁTH, G., MALIK, P., KRISKA, G. and WILDERMUTH, H. (2007), Ecological traps for dragonflies in a cemetery: the attraction of Sympetrum species (Odonata: Libellulidae) by horizontally polarizing black gravestones. Freshwater Biology, 52: 1700–1709. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2427.2007.01798.x
- Issue published online: 5 JUL 2007
- Article first published online: 17 JUN 2007
- (Manuscript accepted on 17 April 2007)
- black gravestones;
- ecological trap;
- polarization vision;
- water detection
1. We observed that the dragonfly species Sympetrum flaveolum, S. striolatum, S. sanguineum, S. meridionale and S. danae were attracted by polished black gravestones in a Hungarian cemetery.
2. The insects showed the same behaviour as at water: (i) they perched persistently in the immediate vicinity of the chosen gravestones and defended their perch against other dragonflies; (ii) flying individuals repeatedly touched the horizontal surface of the shiny black tombstones with the ventral side of their body; (iii) pairs in tandem position frequently circled above black gravestones.
3. Tombstones preferred by the dragonflies were in the open and had an area of at least 0.5 m2 with an almost horizontal, polished, black surface and with at least one perch in their immediate vicinity.
4. Using imaging polarimetry, we found that the black gravestones, like smooth water surfaces, reflect highly and horizontally polarized light.
5. In double-choice field experiments with various test surfaces, we showed that the dragonflies attracted to shiny black tombstones display positive polarotaxis and, under natural conditions, detect water by means of the horizontally polarized reflected light. This, and the reflection-polarization characteristics of black gravestones, explain why these dragonflies are attracted to black tombstones.
6. If females attracted to the black gravestones oviposit on them, the latter constitute ecological traps for dragonflies that are not close to water.