The mysterious sexual life of the most primitive dragonfly
June 01, 2016
The dragonfly considered the most primitive in the world lives in Australia and Tasmania, and was believed to be extinct four decades ago. But it is far from being so. A Spanish researcher has observed thousands of these insects in one of the few habitats in which it has been detected and it displays sexual behaviour that is unique, not only directed towards reproduction.
Hemiphlebia mirabilis is a rare species in every sense: it is the most primitive dragonfly known to man, it has unique reproductive behaviours and was believed to be extinct in the 70s. Fascinated by this living fossil, researcher Adolfo Cordero-Rivera travelled to Australia, where it is endemic, to gather information on the mating system of a population that started to be seen again in 2009.
After an intensive month of observations, the researcher in the University of Vigo (Spain) showed that the species is far from being extinct: "I found thousands of individuals, which is very good news since there was much concern for this species." As he explains in the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity.
Although the work aimed to obtain basic information on the reproductive behaviour of this dragonfly and study the development of the sperm competition mechanisms in this very primitive species, the scientist also shows that, contrary to what was believed, the populations are large. "The number of individuals per generation possibly exceeds 1 million," he states in the study.
This population that lives in the Long Swamp wetland in Victoria, in the south of Australia, has a life expectancy of one week for the males and four days for the females. Moreover, the males show little mobility and fly short distances, remaining inactive most of the time, especially in temperatures below 17Â°C or above 35Â°C.
"This low mobility, together with its enigmatic colouring and the limited accessibility of its habitat could explain how these important populations have remained unnoticed until a very short while ago," Cordero-Rivera told SINC. Despite having experienced certain limitations due to carrying out the research alone, the expert could estimate a density of 100 animals for each 10 m2 in points of high population.
For this reason, Cordero-Rivera suggests that this species of dragonfly should no longer be considered a species in critical danger of extinction. "With the information now available, Hemiphlebia mirabilis no longer satisfies any of the criteria of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and should be re-evaluated," says the researcher.
Unique sexual behaviour
But the aspect which undoubtedly makes them more visible to the human eye is their sexual behaviour. What surprised the researcher most was that both sexes showed frequent abdominal flicking displays and fast rotations over the perching support. "This behaviour is highly elaborate and is absolutely unique," says the scientist from the Galician university who immortalised the movements in video. The copulation behaviour has been analysed in a second article that has just been published in the journal PeerJ.
This work is the first to quantify adult behaviour of the Hemiphlebia mirabilis using a large sample of both sexes. When studying these insects, the scientist observed that the unique movement is not only produced immediately after landing, but also while they continue to sit.
Although Cordero-Rivera could not confirm whether the females and males use this abdominal flicking to attract the opposite sex, he could confirm that both sexes practice this movement even in the absence of any reproductive interaction.
"This suggests that this behaviour is not an ordinary courtship display," affirmed the scientist. According to the researcher, the males use the abdominal movement in the pre-copulatory courtship, but the females don't. After more than 100 hours of observation, the scientist did not see any of the females lay eggs.
"I observed 79 females for periods of 10 minutes between 9:00am and 7:00pm, and the only clear conclusion is that oviposition will not be in tandem, because in all cases males and females separated immediately after copulation," says the scientist who is continuing with the study of sexual behaviour of this peculiar and unique dragonfly.
What has been demonstrated is that, like the most recent species of the Odonata order, the male H. mirabilis are capable of extracting the semen of rivals from inside the body of the female. "This suggests that this much specialised behaviour is very old in the evolution of the Odonata," he concludes.
Adolfo Cordero-Rivera. "Demographics and adult activity of Hemiphlebia mirabilis: a short-lived species with a huge population size (Odonata: Hemiphlebiidae)" Insect Conservation and Diversity (2016) 9, 108-117 doi: 10.1111/icad.12147
Cordero-Rivera, A. "Sperm removal during copulation confirmed in the oldest extant damselfly, Hemiphlebia mirabilis". PeerJ 4, e2077 (2016). https://peerj.com/articles/2077/
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Related Dragonfly Current Events and Dragonfly News ArticlesSmall predator diversity is an important part of a healthy ecosystem
Biodiversity, including small predators such as dragonflies and other aquatic bugs that attack and consume parasites, may improve the health of amphibians, according to a team of researchers.Dragonflies on the hunt display complex choreography
The dragonfly is a swift and efficient hunter. Once it spots its prey, it takes about half a second to swoop beneath an unsuspecting insect and snatch it from the air. Scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Research Campus have used motion-capture techniques to track the details of that chase, and found that a dragonfly's movement is guided by internal models of its own body and the anticipated movement of its prey.Astronomers find 7 dwarf galaxies with new telescope
Yale University astronomers, using a new type of telescope made by stitching together telephoto lenses, recently discovered seven celestial surprises while probing a nearby spiral galaxy. Crocodile tears please thirsty butterflies and bees
The butterfly (Dryas iulia) and the bee (Centris sp.) were most likely seeking scarce minerals and an extra boost of protein.A lake fauna in a shot-glass
Danish research team leads the way for future biodiversity monitoring using DNA traces in the environment to keep track of threatened wildlife - a lake water sample the size of a shot-glass can contain evidence of an entire lake fauna. Digital Cameras Open New View of America's West
A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) aerial photography survey of 38,000 wildfire-burned acres in Idaho provided what is believed to be the first evidence that the invasive leafy spurge weed is displacing seedlings of native mountain big sagebrush.Restoration as science: case of the collared lizard
In a time when a five-year grant is considered a long-term grant, Alan R. Templeton, PhD, a professor of biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has managed to follow some of the species he studies for 10, 20 or even 30 years.Raising Giant Insects to Unravel Ancient Oxygen
The giant dragonflies of ancient Earth with wingspans of up to 70 centimeters (28 inches) are generally attributed to higher oxygen atmospheric levels in the atmosphere in the past. Oxygen fuels the fires of time
Variations in the Earth's atmospheric oxygen levels are thought to be closely linked to the evolution of life, with strong feedbacks between uni- and multicellular life and oxygen.Scientists find amazing new pondlife on nature reserve
One year in to a project to save one of the UK's top sites for pondlife, amazing new species are being revealed for the first time.
More Dragonfly Current Events and Dragonfly News Articles
Dragonfly in Amber: A Novel (Outlander)|
by Diana Gabaldon (Author)
NOW THE STARZ ORIGINAL SERIES OUTLANDER
With her classic novel Outlander, Diana Gabaldon introduced two unforgettable charactersâ€”Claire Randall and Jamie Fraserâ€”delighting readers with a story of adventure and love that spanned two centuries. Now Gabaldon returns to that extraordinary time and place in this vivid, powerful sequel to Outlander.
DRAGONFLY IN AMBER
For twenty years, Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to the mysteries of Scotlandâ€™s mist-shrouded Highlands.
Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as shocking as the events that gave it birth: the secret of an ancient circle of standing stones, the secret of a love that transcends centuries, and the truth of a man named Jamie...
* Recommended Read on USA Today's Happy Ever After blog. * The Fault in Our Stars "Extraordinary Love" Reading List selection * The Best of Me "Southern Love" Reading List selection
"Gossip Girl meets VC Andrews in this contemporary family saga." --Magan Vernon, international bestselling author of The Only Exception
Falling in love changes everything...
Anna Sanders expected an anonymous (and uneventful) senior year until she crossed paths with rich-and-sexy Jack Kyser and his twin sister Lucy.
Pulling Anna into their extravagant lifestyle on the Gulf Coast, Lucy pushed Anna outside her comfort zone, and Jack showed her feelings she'd never experienced... Until he mysteriously withdrew.
Anna turned to her internship...
Creative Haven Entangled Dragonflies Coloring Book (Adult Coloring)|
by Dr. Angela Porter (Author)
Thirty-oneÂ exuberant full-page illustrations to color feature dragonflies in imaginative renditions of natural settings. Inspired by Zentangle, a mode of repetitive patterns, the sweeping designs incorporate a dazzling array of flowers, leaves, and swirling interlocking shapes. Pages are perforated and printed on one side only for easy removal and display. Specially designed for experienced colorists, Entangled Dragonflies and other Creative HavenÂ® adult coloring books offer an escape to a world of inspiration and artistic fulfillment. Each title is also an effective and fun-filled way to relax and reduce stress.
The Mark of the Dragonfly|
by Jaleigh Johnson (Author)
For fans of The City of Ember and The School of Good and Evil, the New York Times bestseller The Mark of the Dragonfly is a fast-paced adventure story about a mysterious girl and a fearless boy, set in a magical world that is both exciting and dangerous.
Â Â Â Piper has never seen the Mark of the Dragonfly until she finds the girl amid the wreckage of a caravan in the Meteor Fields.
Â Â Â The girl doesnâ€™t remember a thing about her life, but the intricate tattoo on her arm is proof that sheâ€™s from the Dragonfly Territories and that sheâ€™s protected by the king. Which means a reward for Piper if she can get the girl home.
Â Â Â The one sure way to the Territories is the 401, a great old beauty of a train. But a ticket costs more coin than Piper could make in a year. And...
Dragonfly: Book One of the Dragonfly Series|
How do you live in a peaceful nation when the blood running through your veins comes from a violent land?
Betrayed. Broken. Lost.
Trusting and naĂŻve, Greeta knows sheâ€™s different. All she has to do is look at herself. Sheâ€™s tall and pale, but lives among people who are small and dark. Although she remembers nothing of her origin, Greeta knows she possesses the blood of Northlanders, fierce and mysterious warriors decimated years ago by gods.
Betrayed and devastated by those she loves, Greeta abandons the peaceful village that once welcomed her. After enduring travels that leave her lost and alone, Greeta meets Finehurst, the man who could be her true love â€“ until she learns his dark and disturbing secrets.
Secrets that give him...
by Endeavour Press
â€śThe dream of flight is as old as the mind of man.â€ť
So begins Robert Jacksonâ€™s incredible book on the history of helicopters.
It is an epic tale that begins in the 4th Century B.C. and travels to ancient Greek physicists and great men like Da Vinci. Dreams of fantastical flying creations that either soared magnificently or crashed to the ground. Their designs evolved until, centuries later, the helicopter's potential was recognised by the military.
In combat, the helicopter's story goes from the early dreams of flight to daring searches and rescue missions.
Complex and compelling, The Dragonflies explores manâ€™s relationship with flight in an extraordinary way.
Robert Jackson was born in 1941 in the North Yorkshire village of...
Dragonfly Creek (Firefly Hollow series Book 3)|
by Streetlight Graphics Publishing
Book Three in the Firefly Hollow series.
When Ben Campbell returns home to Hazard, Kentucky after a five-year absence, the last person he's expecting to run into is the girl who broke his heart - the girl who left town and married someone else. He's done his best to move on, but he knows he's only been going through the motions of living. Determined to exorcise Ainsleyâ€™s ghost, he approaches the young widow with an offer for a steamy liaison to do just that.
Ainsley Brewer Scott carries a lot of weight on her shoulders, weight thatâ€™s left deep emotional and physical scars. Her dreams of an everlasting love with Ben were dashed thoroughly, thanks to her malicious and conniving mother. Back in town to wrap up the old woman's estate, Ainsley's world is turned...
Dragonfly Summer: Book Two - Smith Mountain Lake Series (Volume 2)|
by Inglath Cooper (Author)
When she realizes she's to blame for her nineteen-year-old daughter's disappearance, Keegan Monroe leaves behind a successful career in L.A. for a quieter life on Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia. Raised in the foster care system, Keegan had been determined that her children would live a different life. And so, while she fully met their physical needs, the best schools and a luxurious lifestyle, she hadn't been a daily presence in their lives the way she now knows she should have been. She doesn't intend to waste her son's last year of high school in the same way and determines that things will be different between them in spite of his obvious resentment of the move to Virginia. Bowie Dare, an ex-FBI agent turned thriller writer, loves the life heâ€™s made for himself and his dog Carson...
Undertow (Dragonfly) (Volume 2)|
by Leigh Talbert Moore (Author)
Falling in love will pull you under...Â Â Â Â -Bill Kyser has a plan to take the sandy farms of his hometown and turn them into a world-class tourist destination--and become a billionaire in the process.-Alexandra "Lexy" LaSalle has a plan to change her life by becoming a world-famous artist.-Meg Weaver has a plan to hold onto Bill no matter what she has to do.Â Â Â Three friends, three dreams.Â One fatal decision will change all their lives forever.Â Â In Dragonfly, Bill Kyser gave Anna the three journals that held the story behind the powerful developer's seclusion and the damaged lives of his family members.Â Â Â Anna hopes to find a way for Julian to know the truth, but as she digs deeper into the tragic events of the past, she realizes silence could be the only option.Â Â Â Now...
Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides)|
by Dennis Paulson (Author)
This is the first fully illustrated guide to all 336 dragonfly and damselfly species of eastern North America--from the rivers of Manitoba to the Florida cypress swamps--and the companion volume to Dennis Paulson's acclaimed field guide to the dragonflies and damselflies of the West. Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East features hundreds of color photos that depict all the species found in the region, detailed line drawings to aid in-hand identification, and a color distribution map for every species--and the book's compact size and user-friendly design make it the only guide you need in the field. Species accounts describe key identification features, distribution, flight season, similar species, habitat, and natural history. Paulson's authoritative introduction offers a primer on...