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Dispersal characteristics of three odonate species in a patchy habitat

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Dispersal has a potentially profound effect on the dynamics of populations especially when a population occupies a patchy habitat. Ponds surrounded by terrestrial landscape are an example of patchy distribution of physical conditions and constitute “islands” for odonates. Few studies have focussed on dispersal in odonates. We have used the direct method of dispersal observing (capture-mark-recapture technique) in order to estimate the degree of linkage in three patchy populations of odonate localised on three ponds. We also examined the differences in dispersal ability within and among three species (Coenagrion puella, Coenagrion scitulum and Libellula depressa). The ponds were situated in southwest France on a limestone plateau. In this arid area, these ponds constitute the only surface water available and are relatively sparsely distributed. The size of the ponds ranged from 48 to 79 m2 and they were 200 and 775 m apart. We demonstrated that three factors influence the dispersal ability of these odonates. The first is represented by the abiotic factors and especially weather conditions. This determines the number of days that dispersal is possible. The second is interspecific differences. We showed that sensitivity to weather conditions, species size and species behaviour influence dispersal ability. The third factor is the intraspecific characteristics. We demonstrated that there are differences in dispersal ability according to sex and age. To conclude, we discuss the importance of pond management to maintain the existing odonate populations and to facilitate introduction of new populations in this region where little exchange occurs between ponds.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2003

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