Conductivity and water level modulate developmental plasticity and explain distribution patterns in a diverse neotropical Odonata assemblage

Onderzoeksoutput: Articlepeer review


Developmental plasticity can help organisms to survive in temporally variable environments. However, it is not well understood how variation in life history plasticity helps species coexist in heterogeneous environments. Here, we investigate the extent to which life-history plasticity explains species distributions in a diverse assemblage of odonates in a tropical freshwater rock pool system characterized by substantial variation in pond permanence. Some dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) can accelerate their development to leave the water before their habitat dries. However, how they sense habitat drying is poorly understood. Here, we experimentally tested the extent to which elevated concentrations of salts in water or reductions in water level can be used as cues for developmental acceleration in a neotropical Odonata assemblage from granite rock pools. Libellulidae dragonflies were found along the permanence gradient and accelerated their growth in response to elevated dissolved salts (measured as conductivity). Anax amazili (Aeshnidae) was also found in all environments and did the same in response to lower water levels. In turn, larvae of the damselfly Telebasis simulata (Coenagrionidae) were restricted to deeper long-lived pools and did not respond to the tested cues. Differentiation in life-history strategies can contribute to niche differentiation in this diverse predator assemblage. Developmental plasticity triggered by different cues helps odonates avoid mortality and exploit short-lived habitats. The global acceleration of freshwater salinisation due to human activities might disrupt the delicate links between low levels of dissolved salts and life-history responses and represent a significant threat to these ecosystems and their biodiversity.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)1558-1571
Aantal pagina's14
TijdschriftFreshwater Biology
Nummer van het tijdschrift9
StatusPublished - sep 2023

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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