pp 1–15 | Cite as

Avoidance and aggregation create consistent egg distribution patterns of congeneric caddisflies across spatially variable oviposition landscapes

  • Jill LancasterEmail author
  • Barbara J. Downes
  • Rebecca E. Lester
  • Stephen P. Rice
Behavioral ecology –original research


Amongst oviparous animals, the spatial distribution of individuals is often set initially by where females lay eggs, with potential implications for populations and species coexistence. Do the spatial arrangements of oviposition sites or female behaviours determine spatial patterns of eggs? The consequences of spatial patterns may be context independent if strong behaviours drive patterns; context dependent if the local environment dominates. We tested these ideas using a guild of stream-dwelling caddisflies that oviposit on emergent rocks, focussing on genera with contrasting behaviours. In naturally occurring oviposition landscapes (riffles with emergent rocks), we surveyed the spatial arrangement and environmental characteristics of all emergent rocks, identified and enumerated egg masses on each. Multiple riffles were surveyed to test for spatially invariant patterns and behaviours. In landscapes, we tested for spatial clumping of oviposition sites exploited by each species and for segregation of congeneric species. At oviposition sites, we characterised the frequency distributions of egg masses and tested for species associations. Genus-specific behaviours produced different spatial patterns of egg masses in the same landscapes. Congregative behaviour of Ulmerochorema spp. at landscape scales and an aggregative response at preferred oviposition sites led to clumped patterns, local aggregation and species overlap. In contrast, avoidance behaviours by congeners of Apsilochorema resulted in no or weak clumping, and species segregation in some landscapes. Spatial patterns were consistent across riffles that varied in area and oviposition site density. These results suggest that quite different oviposition behaviours may be context independent, and the consequences of spatial patterns may be spatially invariant also.


Aquatic insects Congregation Rivers Spatial pattern formation Trichoptera 



This research was supported by a Discovery grant from the Australian Research Council (DP 160102262). We are deeply indebted to the assistants who helped collect these data: Courtney Cummings, David Dodemaide, Alena Glaister, Ashley Macqueen and Rafael Schouton. Thanks to Peter Grant for facilitating access to Snobs Ck. Field work was carried out in conjunction with a Research Permit (No. 10007855) under the National Parks Act (Australia), from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (Victoria).

Author contribution statement

All authors conceived and designed the study. JL, BD and RL collected the data. JL carried out the numerical analyses. JL and BD led the data interpretation and writing. All authors contributed critically to writing the paper and approved the final draft.

Supplementary material

442_2019_4587_MOESM1_ESM.docx (992 kb)
Supplementary file1 (DOCX 991 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of GeographyUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Regional and Rural FuturesDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia
  3. 3.Department of GeographyLoughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK

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