PloS one

Scent of a Dragonfly: Sex Recognition in a Polymorphic Coenagrionid.

PMID 26305118


In polymorphic damselflies discrimination of females from males is complex owing to the presence of androchrome and gynochrome females. To date there is no evidence that damselflies use sensory modalities other than vision (and tactile stimuli) in mate searching and sex recognition. The results of the present behavioural and electrophysiological investigations on Ischnura elegans, a polymorphic damselfly, support our hypothesis that chemical cues could be involved in Odonata sex recognition. The bioassays demonstrate that males in laboratory prefer female to male odour, while no significant difference was present in male behavior between stimuli from males and control. The bioassays suggest also some ability of males to distinguish between the two female morphs using chemical stimuli. The ability of male antennae to perceive odours from females has been confirmed by electrophysiological recordings. These findings are important not only to get insight into the chemical ecology of Odonata, and to shed light into the problem of olfaction in Paleoptera, but could be useful to clarify the controversial aspects of the mating behavior of polymorphic coenagrionids. Behavioural studies in the field are necessary to investigate further these aspects.