Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 64, Issue 10, pp 1547–1554

Damselfly females prefer hot males: higher courtship success in males in sunspots


    • Center for Ecological ResearchKyoto University
  • Yuka Samejima
    • Center for Ecological ResearchKyoto University
  • Michael T. Siva-Jothy
    • Animal and Plant SciencesUniversity of Sheffield
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00265-010-0968-2

Cite this article as:
Tsubaki, Y., Samejima, Y. & Siva-Jothy, M.T. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2010) 64: 1547. doi:10.1007/s00265-010-0968-2


Males of some territorial calopterygid damselflies show an elaborate courtship display that involves high-frequency wing-beats directed toward an incoming female. Although it has been suggested that female mate preference is based on some characteristics of male’s courtship display, it is unclear whether the courtship display varies between males or is influenced by environmental conditions. We combined two recent technologies, thermographic imaging and high-speed digital videography, to show that the wing-beat frequency during courtship (i.e., courtship intensity) in a damselfly, Mnais costalis, is correlated with thorax temperature. Our data indicated that (1) male thorax temperature was associated with solar exposure in his territory, (2) environmentally derived thermal gain enhanced courtship intensity, (3) hotter males were more likely to copulate than others, and (4) female thorax temperature during oviposition within a territory was associated with solar exposure. Males with territories that have longer exposure to sun spots are expected to attain higher thorax temperatures for longer and so are able to successfully court more females. We suggest that females benefit from mating with hot males because they will be on a warmer territory while ovipositing. Hot males might also have greater mate guarding ability, and/or eggs may develop faster in warmer territories.


Mnais Damselfly Courtship Body temperature Signal Mate preference Territory

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010