Activity patterns and thermoregulation in a tropical dragonfly assemblage
Odonatologica , Volume 31 - Issue 2 p. 129- 138
Solar exposure is a key factor determining odonate activity, particularly in tropical areas. Small sized perchers, classified as thermal conformers, can begin their activity when air temperature is sufficiently high, and larger species become active when direct exposure to the sun is possible. In this study, the activity patterns in a neotropical dragonfly assemblage present on the Federal University of Vigosa, SE Brazil, have been described and following predictions about their thermoregulatory behaviour tested: (a) a decrease in activity of the percher dragonflies in the warmest periods is expected due to high thoracic temperatures; (b) conformers species will be controlled by temperature, not luminosity, whereas in heliothermic species, the initiation and termination of their activity is only constrained by luminosity. In the dry season, low air temperatures represent a limiting factor to the beginning and the end of activity, resulting in a shorter total activity time. Orthemis discolor and Micrathyria hesperis showed a decrease in activity in the middle of the day in the rainy season. Perithemis mooma was the only sp. that had a higher abundance near midday. As this sp. had a light-coloured thorax compared to the others, it is suggested that it could minimize the effect of the high temperatures. There is a clear effect of season on activity time, and also large differences in the intensity of this effect among species. When clouds precluded direct exposure to sun, variations only in the temperature did not affect the activity of Erythrodiplax fuse a. M. hesperis and O. discolor, but the activity of the small sized I P. mooma remained dependent on temperature. These results highlighted that the minimum body size to be a heliotherm could be a complex function of behavioural and morphological characteristics, including body colour, preferred substrate and perch posture.
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