Patterns of mass gain and sexual dimorphism in adult dragonflies (Insecta: Odonata)

B. R. Anholt, J. H. Marden, D. M. Jenkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


We present data on mass gain and sexual dimorphism from collections of 54 species in eight families of Odonata. Males and females emerge at similar mass in most species (14 of 17 measured), but, females are significantly heavier than males when mature in 37 species. Sexual dimorphism in mass at maturity is most striking in the nonterritorial Coenagrionidae, where females average >60% heavier than males. In species known to be territorial, male and female masses are more similar; female mass does not exceed that of males by more than 32%. Mass gain as an adult is beneficial to females regardless of mating system because it increases fecundity. In territorial species, heavier males are more likely to acquire and hold territories and thereby gain access to mates. In nonterritorial species, heavy males do not have the same advantage in access to mates. Because acquiring resources for mass gain has costs in time and mortality, and there are metabolic costs of maintaining additional mass, males of species with nonterritorial mating systems gain less mass. As a result, the mass of males and females in species with territorial mating systems are more similar than in species with nonterritorial mating systems. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1156-1163
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian journal of zoology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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