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Abstract

Location of breeding or egg-laying sites may be an important factor underlying social behavior of many organisms. We studied oviposition sites used by a population of Leucorrhinia intacta dragonflies at a small pond near Syracuse, NY, USA. Females preferentially used shallow water as an oviposition habitat. Shallow water increases egg hatching rate through temperature effects on development time and reduces predation on the female. Use of shallow water areas was reduced by locally high densities of territorial males. The same oviposition sites probably maximized the fitness of the male, female, and offspring, meaning that site selection did not necessitate fitness tradeoffs among these classes of individuals. Pond sectors used by ovipositing females were significantly correlated within and between years, but not within days or between consecutive days. Use of pond sectors within and between days was not related to the relative availability of the shallow water habitat, while seasonal use of pond sectors was related positively to availability of shallow water. In spite of the preference by females for ovipositing in shallow water, short-term location of females was not predictable and males could not search predictably good areas during a day. However, across a season, areas with more shallow water available were used for oviposition more than areas with limited substrate.