Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 761–770 | Cite as

Body size, temperature, and seasonal differences in size structure influence the occurrence of cannibalism in larvae of the migratory dragonfly, Anax junius



The aim of this study was to test the hypotheses that body size and seasonal differences in temperature and size structure influence cannibalism in larval dragonflies. In the first two experiments, larvae that were either similar or different in size were paired to examine the potential for intra- and intercohort cannibalism. In the third experiment, size structure of an assemblage of larvae and water temperature were manipulated to explore the seasonal dynamics of cannibalism. Cannibalism was common between individuals that differed in body size by one or more instars. Cannibalism also occurred between individuals similar in size but the rate varied across developmental stages. Results suggest that cannibalism may be most common when water temperatures are warm and late-instar larvae are present at high densities. These results highlight the importance of intra- and intercohort cannibalism as factors that can influence the population dynamics of generalist predators.


Cannibalism Size structure Migration Anax junius Predation 



I would like to thank Philip Crowley and Andrew Sih for their valuable feedback on earlier versions of this manuscript and for their assistance in designing the experiments; three anonymous reviewers for critical reading of the manuscript; and Melissa Zwick for logistical support. This work was funded by a grant from the Ribble Research Fund at the University of Kentucky and National Science Foundation Grant DEB-0206549 to Patrick Crumrine and Philip Crowley.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences & Program in Environmental StudiesRowan UniversityGlassboroUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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