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Abstract

Finding a suitable oviposition site can be costly because of energy and time requirements, and ovipositioning can be dangerous because of the risk of predation and harassment by males. The damselfly Argia moesta oviposits, contact-guarded by her mate, on vegetation in streams. Oviposition aggregations are commonly observed in this species, despite their territorial nature during other behaviors. We conducted experiments in the field to test the hypothesis that aggregations are the result of conspecific attraction. In the first experiment, two oviposition sites (sycamore leaves) were provided, one with models of ovipositing pairs, and one without. In the second experiment, one leaf again had ovipositing models, while the other had models of uncoupled males and females in a resting posture. In both experiments, damselfly pairs preferred the site with ovipositing models. In general, they visited the ovipositing models first more often than expected by chance, stayed longer there, were more likely to oviposit there, and laid a greater total number of eggs there. These results support the hypothesis that conspecific attraction is responsible for ovipositing aggregations in A. moesta and that posture is an important cue for attraction. Using conspecific cues could be a beneficial strategy to save in search costs while taking advantage of the presence of ovipositing conspecifics to dilute the effects of harassment and predation.