The Behavioral Ecology of Libellula luctuosa (Burmeister) (Anisoptera: Libellulidae): I. Temporal Changes in the Population Density and the Effects on Male Territorial Behavior


  • Allen J. Moore

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    1. Department of Environmental, Population and Organismic Biology and Institute for Behavioral Genetics, University of Colorado, Boulder
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EPO Biology Box 334, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, 80309-0334, U.S.A.


A single population of a common pond dragonfly, Libellula luctuosa, was studied at a site where the density of males increased dramatically during the breeding season. Early in the summer one active male was found on each territory on the pond. Satellite males were only occasionally found on the territories. Later in the season the number of males per territory increased so that two or more males simultaneously defended on many of the territories, and several satellite males occupied each of the territories. The number and rate of female visitations per day did not change over the summer. These factors resulted in a change in the operational sex ratio with variations in male density. Male behavior was also altered with increasing population density. As male density increased, males were less likely to be seen perching on their territories and more likely to be seen performing aggressive acts such as chasing nearby territorial males and chasing intruders. At high male density, the duration of territorial behaviors was shorter than at low male density. Thus, the percent of a time budget spent in any one activity did not change despite the change in number of males present. Male activity in L. luctuosa is not strictly determined by the opportunity for aggression. Costs of aggression associated with territoriality are minimized by maintaining flexible territorial behaviors.