Susceptibility of larval dragonflies to zebra mussel colonization and its effect on larval movement and survivorship

TitleSusceptibility of larval dragonflies to zebra mussel colonization and its effect on larval movement and survivorship
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsFincke OMargaret, Santiago D, Hickner S, Bienek R

Colonization by the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, was quantified for five dragonfly species that differed in size and larval habits in a Michigan lake. Both larger size and a non-burrowing habit independently increased susceptibility to colonization. In 2005, over 50% of the final instars of the sprawlers Didymops transversa and Hagenius brevistylus were colonized, as well as younger instars. Rarely colonized were Progomphus obscurus and Dromogomphus spinosus, whose larvae burrow under sand, and the sprawler Epitheca princeps, whose final instars were lightly covered with sand. Hagenius larvae that had been preyed upon carried more mussels than those dying of other causes. More generally, mussel attachment decreased the probability that sprawlers left the water to emerge, the distance that some species traveled before emerging, and the ability of an overturned sprawler to right itself. On average, final instars of Didymops and Hagenius remaining in the water carried three times as many mussels as individuals known to emerge. Compared to uncolonized individuals, Epitheca and Progomphus with mussels emerged closer to the water line. Among colonized Didymops, the distance traveled on land before emerging decreased with increasing mussel load. Of the colonized Didymops that could right themselves, righting time increased with mussel load. Because the two common species of sprawlers were disproportionately colonized, and mussel attachment decreased their chances of emerging, our results suggest that D. polymorpha has the potential to affect the community structure of this guild of aquatic and terrestrial predators.