Evolutionary Ecology

, 23:699 | Cite as

Male dimorphism, territoriality and mating success in the tropical damselfly, Paraphlebia zoe Selys (Odonata: Megapodagrionidae)

  • Allari Romo-Beltrán
  • Rogelio Macías-Ordóñez
  • Alex Córdoba-AguilarEmail author
Original Paper


The tropical damselfly Paraphlebia zoe has two male morphs: a black-winged (BW) male which is associated with territorial defense of oviposition sites; and a hyaline-winged (HW) male similar in appearance to females, and, compared to the black morph, less frequently found defending territories. In a wild population of this species, we first assessed the relationship between phenotypic traits [male morph, size and territorial status (being territorial or non-territorial)], their role on mating success, and the degree to which a particular territory may contribute to male mating success. Second, to relate a physiological basis of being territorial we compared both morphs in terms of muscular fat reserves and thoracic muscle, two key traits related to territory defense ability. Males of both morphs defended territories although the BW males were more commonly found doing this. BW males were larger than HW males and size predicted being territorial but only within HW males (territorial males were larger) but not in BW males. Male mating success was related to territorial status (territorial males achieved a higher mating success), but not to morph or size. Furthermore, territory identity also explained mating success with some territories producing more matings than others. The BW morph stored more fat reserves which may explain why this morph was more likely to secure and defend a place than the HW morph. However, the HW morph showed higher relative muscle mass which we have interpreted as a flexible strategy to enable males to defend a territory. These results are distant to what has been found in another male dimorphic damselfly, Mnais pruinosa, where the advantage of the non-territorial morph relies on its longevity to compensate in mating benefits compared to the territorial morph.


Mating success Male dimorphism Territory Phenotype Muscle Fat reserves 



We would like to thank Luis García Fería and Pedro Démanos Flores for assistance in the field, Enrique González-Soriano for showing us the field site, Raúl Iván Martínez Becerril for logistic help in the lab and preparing the manuscript and one anonymous reviewer for his/her valuable comments. Allari Romo-Beltrán was supported by CONACyT graduate fellowship no. 164437.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allari Romo-Beltrán
    • 1
  • Rogelio Macías-Ordóñez
    • 1
  • Alex Córdoba-Aguilar
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Departamento de Biología EvolutivaInstituto de EcologíaVeracruzMexico
  2. 2.Departamento de Ecología Evolutiva, Instituto de EcologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMexicoMexico

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