European journal of entomology vol:101 issue:3 pages:373-377
The coexistence of discrete morphs within a species, with one morph more conspicuous than the other(s) is often thought to result from both sexual selection and predation. In many damselflies, sexual dimorphism occurs jointly with multiple female colour morphs. Typically, one morph is coloured like the male (andromorph), while the other(s) is not (gynomorph(s)). The mechanisms contributing to the maintenance of such female polymorphism in damselflies remain poorly understood, especially the role of predation. We tested the detectability of two different female colour morphs of the damselfly, Enallagma cyathigerum, using human observers as model predators; andromorphs were detected more frequently than gynomorphs. Field data on mortality of males and the two different female morphs due to predation or drowning were also collected, and these observations support morph-specific mortality. In natural populations predation risk was higher in males than females; gynomorphs, however, were more prone to predation than andromorphs. Differences in behaviour between morphs, rather than colour, may explain this result.