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PubMed | Taras Shevchenko National University, University of Kiel and France; Societe francaise dOdonatologie
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Zoology (Jena, Germany) | Year: 2016

Oviposition site selection is a crucial component of habitat selection in dragonflies. The presence of appropriate oviposition plants at breeding waters is considered to be one of the key habitat determinants for species laying eggs endophytically. Thus, Lestes macrostigma, a species which is regarded as threatened in Europe because of its highly disjunct distribution, typically prefers to lay eggs in the sea club rush Bolboschoenus maritimus. However, little is known about how the anatomical and mechanical properties of plant tissues determine the choice of L. macrostigma females. We examined green shoots of six plant species used by L. macrostigma for oviposition, either in the field (actual oviposition plants) or under experimental conditions (potential oviposition plants), to analyse anatomical and mechanical properties of shoots in a framework of known preferences regarding plant substrates for oviposition. As expected, the anatomy of shoots differed between representatives of two plant families, Cyperaceae and Juncaceae, most essentially in the distribution of supporting bundles and the presence of large aeriferous cavities that may affect egg placing within a shoot. The force necessary to puncture the tested plant samples ranged from 360 to 3298 mN, and their local stiffness ranged from 777 to 3363N/m. We show that the shoots of B. maritimus, the plant most preferred by L. macrostigma, have intermediate characteristics regarding both the stiffness and specific anatomical characteristics. The bending stiffness of the ovipositor in L. macrostigma was estimated as 1414N/m, one of the highest values recorded for zygopteran dragonflies so far. The ecological and behavioural implications of plant choice mechanisms in L. macrostigma are discussed in the context of the disjunct distribution of this species.

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