Fights at the Dinner Table: Agonistic Behavior inPachydiplax longipennis(Odonata: Libellulidae) at Feeding Sites

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Aggressive behavior of Pachydiplax longipennis during foraging was quantified by observing focal individuals on arrays of artificial perches. Pachydiplax apparently aggressively defend, for up to several hours at a time, one or a few feeding perches. Seventeen percent of all behaviors included agonistic actions, e.g., chasing or physical contact. The frequency of interactions was correlated positively with ambient temperature, solar radiation, prey density and density of other dragonflies. Both sexes initiated and responded to intra- and interspecific aggression; intraspecific interactions were more intense, however. Males had significantly higher interaction rates and fighting success than females, and intraspecific male–male contests were particularly intense. When prey were visibly localized, contest winners commonly gained perches closer to the prey swarm, and aggressive behavior was apparently correlated with feeding opportunity. Despite the frequency of aggression, these dragonflies allocated only about 19 s, on average, to agonistic behavior during 30-min observation periods. This and other costs appear small compared to foraging benefits of occupying a favorable perch, although at a very high interaction intensity high energy costs and lower intake reduce the net energy gain.

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