Investigating the impact of forests on adult dragonfly dispersal and larval performance

The type of land cover surrounding habitats (i.e., matrix habitat) can influence community connectivity. Increased forest cover can restrict species’ movement through the terrestrial matrix (i.e., the landscape surrounding aquatic habitats), decreasing the colonization and thus diversity of aquatic habitats. Pond canopy cover can also reduce population growth rates due to lowered primary production. Our research will firstly examine whether forests can be complete barriers to insects dispersing to reproductive habitats. We will use an observational approach to examine the movement patterns of dragonflies when approaching field versus forest habitats, and whether these behavioural responses to forests affect functional connectivity among ponds. Secondly, we will experimentally test whether open versus closed canopy ponds result in differential survival among dragonfly offspring. If forests are barriers to adult dispersal and result in greater offspring mortality, forest regrowth, particularly across mid-latitudinal North America, may decrease pond connectivity and diversity of dragonfly communities.

Principal Investigator: Shannon McCauley

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