Alternative mate-finding tactics in a non-territorial damselfly (Odonata: Coenagrionidae)

TitleAlternative mate-finding tactics in a non-territorial damselfly (Odonata: Coenagrionidae)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1985
AuthorsFincke OMargaret
JournalAnimal Behaviour

Males of the non-territorial damselfly Enallagma hageni have two alternative tactics for finding mates: (1) they search the banks of the pond for unmated females (searching tactic), or (2) wait at oviposition sites for females that resurface prematurely from underwater oviposition (waiting tactic). Although the searching tactic yielded more fertilizations than the waiting tactic, for time invested, the waiting tactic became increasingly successful later in the reproductive season due to changes in female oviposition behaviour. The two tactics can be maintained in the population because males can mate by the waiting tactic during the afternoon when few females are available to searchers. Among males visiting the breeding site an equal number of times, males mating by a mixture of tactics were as successful as males mating only by the main tactic. Because marked males were found to use both tactics, these behaviours are interpreted as evidence of behavioural plasticity within individuals, representing one conditional evolutionary strategy.