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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Looks or personality: what drives damselfly male mating success in the wild?

Golab, M. J.; Brodin, T.


Understanding the connection between personality and fitness is an important topic in both behavioural and evolutionary ecology. Most of our current knowledge stems from lab-studies despite that studies in natural populations for most parts generate more ecologically relevant information on behavioural variation and mating success. Here, we quantified Calopteryx splendens male mating success across two behavioural axes: courtship and boldness-aggression, testing personality and plasticity of behavioural traits in a natural population situated in the central-core of the species distribution. We also measured wing patch area and body size as these traits are important in damselfly sexual selection. The only behavioural trait that positively affected mating success was consistency in courtship effort. Among morphological traits, smaller wing patch size was associated with greater male mating success, while thorax size was a better predictor of male mating success than either personality or plasticity in boldness and activity. Our results demonstrate the importance of behavioural consistency over plasticity in a wild insect population and support prior studies showing the importance of body size for mating success.


Calopteryx splendens; boldness; activity; courtship; behavioural syndrome; wild population

Published in

The European Zoological Journal
2024, Volume: 91, number: 1, pages: 81-93