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Ecology. 2009 Aug;90(8):2202-12.

Reproductive timing and patterns of development for the damselfly Coenagrion puella in the field.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Crown Street, Liverpool L69 7ZB, United Kingdom.


By a combination of detailed behavioral observations and molecular genetic approaches we have assessed development time, timing of first maturity, and the extent of genetic structure through the flying season in a wild population of the damselfly Coenagrion puella in England. This work provides the first estimate of development time (egg to mature adult) in the field based on individual damselflies. Development time was significantly longer for females than males. In contrast to reported laboratory studies, there was no difference in development times between different female color morphs. Development time ranged between 347 and 396 days and was negatively correlated with egg-laying date. As a result eggs laid early in one season reach adult maturity relatively late in the next; concurrently individuals developing from eggs laid late mature relatively early. We speculate that this pattern of development is a direct physiological response to seasonal environmental variation and results in reproductive synchrony within a population. Size, specifically hind wing length, declined with development time in males, but not in females. In one of the two years of the study there was evidence for weak clustering of related individuals during the reproductive season. This appeared to be the result of developmental synchronization within families: variance in timing of maturation was smaller in full-sib families than in half-sib families or randomly assigned unrelated groups.

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