Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 27–37 | Cite as

Forced Copulations and Female Contact Guarding at a High Male Density in a Calopterygid Damselfly

  • Adolfo Cordero


Territorial males of Calopteryx damselflies court females on territories that contain oviposition substrates. Nonterritorial males try to mate without courtship but very rarely obtain matings because females fail to bring up their abdomen to engage genitalia. Here I report the results of observations made on a very high-density population of Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis in central Italy. Mating activity was intense, and during 40 h of observation in an 8-m section of the stream, 209 matings were recorded (a maximum of 17 matings h−1). Males were continuously disturbing ovipositing females and tried to achieve tandem forcibly. Of 84 cases, males achieved forced tandem in 53, and 49 ended with copulation. Forced tandems were the most common method to obtain a mating in this population (55% of 65 matings). Males guarded females after forced or courtship copulations and, in some cases, maintained physical contact with their mate, by perching on her wings. Confusion was common and males guarded nonmates frequently, which suggests that they were unable to recognize their mate individually.

damselflies Odonata Calopterygidae forced mating contact guarding female choice 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alcock, J. (1983). Mate guarding and the adquisition of new mates in Calopteryx maculata (P. de Beauvois) (Zygoptera: Calopterygidae). Odonatologica 12: 153–159.Google Scholar
  2. Conrad, K. F., and Pritchard, G. (1992). An ecological classification of odonate mating systems: The relative influence of natural, inter-and intra-sexual selection on males. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 45: 255–269.Google Scholar
  3. Cordero, A. (1989). Estructura de tres comunidades de Calopteryx (Odonata: Calopterygidae) con diferente composición específica. Limnética 5: 83–91.Google Scholar
  4. Fincke, O. M. (1997). Conflict resolution in the Odonata: Implications for understanding female mating patterns and female choice. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 60: 201–220.Google Scholar
  5. Heymer, A. (1972). Comportamente social et territorial des Calopterygidae (Odon. Zygoptera). Ann. Soc. Entomol. Fr. (N.S.) 8(1): 3–53.Google Scholar
  6. Heymer, A. (1973). Étude du comportement reproducteur et analyse des méchanismes déclencheurs innés (MDI) optiques chez les Calopterygidae (Odon. Zygoptera). Ann. Soc. Entomol. Fr. (N.S.) 9(1): 219–255.Google Scholar
  7. Higashi, K. (1981). A description of territorial and reproductive behaviours in Mnais pruinosa Selys (Odonata: Calopterygidae). J. Fac. Lib. Arts Saga Univ. 13: 123–140.Google Scholar
  8. Higashi, K., and Nomakuchi, S. (1997). Alternative mating tactics and aggressive male interactions in Mnais nawai (Yamamoto (Zygoptera: Calopterygidae). Odonatologica 26: 159–169.Google Scholar
  9. Higashi, K., and Uéda, T. (1982). Territoriality and movement pattern in a population of Calopteryx cornelia (Selys) (Zygoptera: Calopterygidae). Odonatologica 11: 129–137.Google Scholar
  10. Hooper, R. E. (1995). Individual recognition of mates and non-mates by male Calopteryx splendens xanthostoma (Charpentier) (Zygoptera: Calopterygidae). Odonatologica 24: 347–352.Google Scholar
  11. Maibach, A. (1986). Révision systématique du genre Calopteryx Leach (Odonata, Zygoptera) pour l'Europe occidentale. II. Analyses morphologique et synthèse. Mitt. Schweiz. Ent. Ges. 58: 477–492.Google Scholar
  12. Meek, S. B., and Herman, T. B. (1990). A comparison of reproductive behaviours of three Calopteryx species (Odonata: Calopterygidae) in Nova Scotia. Can. J. Zoo. 68: 10–16.Google Scholar
  13. Oppenheimer, S. D., and Waage, J. K. (1987). Hand-pairing: A new technique for obtaining copulations within and between Calopteryx species (Zygoptera: Calopterygidae). Odonatologica 16: 291–296.Google Scholar
  14. Pajunen, V. I. (1966). Aggressive behavior and territoriality in a population of Calopteryx virgo L. (Odon., Calopterygidae). Ann. Zool. Fennici 3: 201–214.Google Scholar
  15. Plaistow, S. (1997). Variation in non-territorial behaviour in male Calopteryx splendens xanthostoma (Charpentier) (Zygoptera: Calopterygidae). Odonatologica 26: 171–181.Google Scholar
  16. Plaistow, S., and Siva-Jothy, M. T. (1996). Energetic constraints and male mate-securing tactics in the damselfly Calopteryx splendens xanthostoma (Charpentier). Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 263: 1233–1238.Google Scholar
  17. Robertson, H. M., and Paterson, H. E. H. (1982). Mate recognition and mechanical isolation in Enallagma damselflies (Odonata: Coenagrionidae). Evolution 36(2): 243–250.Google Scholar
  18. Thornhill, R., and Alcock, J. (1983). The Evolution of Insect Mating Systems, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  19. Uéda, T. (1979). Plasticity of the reproductive behaviour in a dragonfly, Sympetrum parvulum Barteneff, with reference to the social relationship of males and the density of territories. Res. Popul. Ecol. 21: 135–152.Google Scholar
  20. Uéda, T. (1996). Some aspects of diversified reproductive behaviour in Sympetrum dragonflies. Nature Insects 31(8): 2–8 (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  21. Waage, J. K. (1973). Reproductive behavior and its relation to territoriality in Calopteryx maculata (Beauvois) (Odonata: Calopterygidae). Behaviour 47(3–4): 240–256.Google Scholar
  22. Waage, J. K. (1988). Reproductive behaviour of the damselfly Calopteryx dimidiata Burmeister (Zygoptera: Calopterygidae). Odonatologica 17(4): 365–378.Google Scholar
  23. Watanabe, M., and Taguchi, M. (1997). Competition for perching sites in the hyaline-winged males of the damselfly Mnais pruinosa costalis Selys that use sneaky mate-securing tactics (Zygoptera: Calopterygidae). Odonatologica 26: 183–191.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adolfo Cordero
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Ecoloxía e Bioloxía AnimalUniversidade de VigoPontevedraSpain

Personalised recommendations