Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 64, Issue 4, pp 685–692

Body temperature and body size affect flight performance in a damselfly

Original Paper


Flight performance is undoubtedly an important factor for behavioral success in flying insects. Though it is well-known that the flight performance is influenced by body temperature and body size, the relative importance of these factors is not well-understood. We performed laboratory experiments using the male-polymorphic damselfly Mnais costalis with larger territorial males and smaller non-territorial males in a population. We analyzed the effects of body temperature and body size, measured as the thoracic temperature and left hind-wing length, respectively, on two indices of flight performance: maximum lifting force and size-corrected lifting force. The latter is an index of acceleration that is related to aerial agility. The results showed that higher body temperature produced both larger maximum lifting force and larger size-corrected lifting force. In contrast, while larger size produced a larger maximum lifting force, it produced a lower size-corrected lifting force. The results of field measurements showed that territorial males had variable thoracic temperatures depending on the insolation in their territories. In contrast, non-territorial males had less variable and generally higher thoracic temperatures than territorial males as they are mostly found in sunny spots. Until now, the influence of body temperature on behavioral performance has remained unclear although considerable studies have suggested such influence. We showed, here, for the first time, combined effects of body size and body temperature on flight performance. We also showed that body temperature was influenced by the mating strategies of a damselfly. These findings provide new insights into the cost and benefits of territorial behavior in ectothermic animals.


Body temperature Lifting force Alternative mating strategies Thermoregulation Wing-color polymorphism Mnais costalis 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Ecological ResearchKyoto UniversityOtsuJapan

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