Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Remembering the summer: field work with damselflies in Skåne


Winter is approaching fast, and what could be better then than to try to remember the past beatiful summer for as long as possible?Varm summers means field work with insects, at least for some of us. This was also the case for myself, CAnMove postdoc Sophia Engel and a number of other students and postdocs working with field studies of calopterygid damselflies. Here is a nice movie about CAnMove-related field work from Lund University's Youtube-channel. This movie contains an interview with Sophia and myself, where we explain what kind of experiments we did, and why. Unfortunately, this movie is in Swedish, not English, but at least you can enjoy the pictures!

Basically, we have quantified flight speeds of individually marked damselflies of two species (Calopteryx virgo and C. splendens), and we relate this performance-trait to wing morphology (shape), longevity in the field and mating success (sexual selection). A key player in this system is an enigmatic avian predator which kills these insects: The white wagtail (Motacilla alba), which also appears in the movie. The ornithologists among you readers will hopefully also realise how fascinating this insect system actually is, since it obviously also involves a bird! A key goal of ours is to link morphology to performance and fitness, and combine flight speed estimates with data on morphology and fitness. Such studies are rarely possible to perform, particularly not in natural populations of insects, so we are quite excited about the results that will hopefully come out from this work.

If the movie above does not work, you could follow this link instead. Enjoy! And go back and watch this movie whenever you miss the summer...

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