, Volume 132, Issue 1, pp 23–32

Wing length allometry in Odonata: differences between families in relation to migratory behaviour

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00435-012-0172-1

Cite this article as:
Sacchi, R. & Hardersen, S. Zoomorphology (2013) 132: 23. doi:10.1007/s00435-012-0172-1


In insects, wing shape and body size are correlated with several aspects of behaviour, and the optimal morphology of wings is a trade-off between a number of functional demands in relation to behaviour (e.g. foraging, migration and sexual display). Dragonflies are spectacularly skilful flyers and present a range of different wing shapes, but to date, no detailed studies have been conducted in this group on wing length allometry in relation to body size. In this paper, we use published data on body length and wing length in all European and North American dragonflies to investigate differences in wing length allometries among Odonata taxa (suborders and families) and to relate these to behavioural patterns. We found different wing allometries between Zygoptera and Anisoptera, which are probably related to the flight mode and wing form of the two suborders. Among the Anisoptera, the Libellulidae showed a distinct wing length allometry from all other anisopteran families and migrants differed from non-migrant species. The first dichotomy is likely to reflect the adaptation of wing morphology of Libellulidae to sit-and-wait behaviour and to brief foraging flights (most species of this family are perchers) with respect to all other families, members of which are typically flyers. The second dichotomy reflects the trend of migrating species to have relatively longer wings than non-migrating members of the same family. Finally, wing length allometry differed among all the zygopteran families analysed, and this pattern suggested that each family evolved a particular wing morphology in response to peculiarities in behaviour, habitat and flight mode.


Wing length allometryBody sizeMigratory behaviourOdonataLibellulidae

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e dell’AmbienteUniversità di PaviaPaviaItaly
  2. 2.Centro Nazionale per lo Studio e la Conservazione della Biodiversità Forestale “Bosco Fontana” di VeronaCorpo Forestale dello StatoMarmiroloItaly