Novel wing display and divergent agonistic behaviors of two incipient Psolodesmus damselflies

Leocris S. Batucan, Yu Hsun Hsu, Jak W. Maliszewski, Liang Jong Wang, Chung Ping Lin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Sexual selection via male competition is a strong evolutionary force that can drive rapid changes in competitive traits and subsequently lead to population divergence and speciation. Territorial males of many odonates are known to use their colorful wings as visual signals and to perform agonistic displays toward intruders. Psolodesmus mandarinus dorothea and Psolodesmus mandarinus mandarinus are two parapatrically distributed sister damselflies that share similar ecological characteristics but differ markedly in wing coloration. The wings of P. m. dorothea are mostly clear, whereas those of P. m. mandarinus have a large area of black pigmentation and a central white patch. We investigated whether territorial males of the two damselflies at breeding sites display distinct agonistic behaviors associated with their respective wing colors. Behavioral interactions between territorial and intruder males and their wing kinematics were filmed and analyzed for P. m. dorothea in Lienhuachih of central Taiwan, and P. m. mandarinus in Tianxiyuan and Fusan of northern Taiwan. We observed that the P. m. mandarinus males exhibited a novel set of perched wing displays, which was not only absent in its sister P. m. dorothea but also previously unknown in Odonata. At breeding sites, perched rival males of P. m. mandarinus with pigmented wings exhibited escalating agonistic wing-flapping and wing-hitting displays toward each other. In contrast, territorial males of P. m. dorothea with clear wings engaged only in aerial chase or face-to-face hovering when intruder males approached from the air. These results indicate that the two sister P. mandarinus damselflies diverged behaviorally in territorial contests and support the hypothesis of coadaptation on the basis of wing colors and types of wing movement in Odonata. Our findings further suggest that divergent agonistic wing displays may play a pivotal role in the speciation mechanism of P. mandarinus damselflies. The sequential analyses of behavioral characteristics and progression suggest that P. m. mandarinus damselflies likely use mutual assessment of rivals in territorial contests.

Original languageEnglish
Article number49
JournalDie Naturwissenschaften
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec


  • Calopterygidae
  • Male competition
  • Odonata
  • Psolodesmus mandarinus
  • Sexual selection
  • Speciation
  • Taiwan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Novel wing display and divergent agonistic behaviors of two incipient Psolodesmus damselflies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this