Predation, Climate, and Emergence and Mating of Mayflies

  • George F. EdmundsJr.
  • Christine H. Edmunds


The abbreviated adult life of Ephemeroptera is an adaptation to minimize exposure time to predators. In eight to ten independent specialized lineages adult life is reduced to two hours or less. Predation by Odonata and birds is intensive in the lowland tropics and most unspecialized longer-lived forms emerge as sub-imagos in the first two hours of darkness, transform to imagos before dawn and mate and oviposit by mid-morning. In temperate regions cool night-time temperatures often preclude the possibility of the tropical pattern; furthermore lessened predation allows other temporal patterns. Temperate mayflies thus have a variety of emergence and swarming times. Short-lived specialized genera are subject to fewer restraints on emergence and swarming times and tropical and temperate forms are similar. Seasonal emergence and coordinated mass emergence are mechanisms for satiating predators. Remote nuptial flight probably evolved as a mechanism of escape from predation; it is assumed that swarm markers are essential to allow remote flight. It is probable that swarm markers are more common in tropical than in temperate mayflies. There is some evidence that ancestral emergence and swarming habits may persist when mayflies disperse to new areas.


Seasonal Emergence Larval Habitat Temperate Species Mass Emergence Malay Peninsula 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • George F. EdmundsJr.
    • 1
  • Christine H. Edmunds
    • 1
  1. 1.University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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