As the planet warms, the study found that male dragonflies are losing a crucial feature they typically use to attract female mates: the ornate black patterns on their Wings. The new study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study found that male dragonflies are adapting to a warming climate by shedding more of their darker Wings patterns. Researchers worry that female species may no longer recognize their male counterparts without their intricate patterns. It won’t be able to reproduce as temperatures get hotter.Michael Moore, lead author of the study and an evolutionary biologist at Washington University in St. Louis said that the research shows that males and females of these dragonfly species are going to shift in pretty different ways as the climate changes. These changes happen much faster on a timescale than the evolutionary changes in these species have ever occurred before.
Moore and his colleagues analyzed a database of more than 300 dragonfly species across the US, Canada and northern Mexico, and cross-referenced the Wings colors of roughly 2,700 individual dragonflies from different species across different locations and climates.According to a study Moore co-authored in 2019, male dragonflies with darker patterns thrive under colder conditions, whereas warmer conditions dramatically reduce their performance. The latest study highlights that male dragonfly adapted to warmer temperatures by evolving less melanin on their patterns.
A darker Wings coloration is a crucial mating trait for male dragonflies, enticing female mates. But just as dark roads absorb the sun’s heat, dark pigments increase the dragonflies’ body temperatures by up to 2 degrees Celsius, damaging their tissue, overheating them and reducing their defence abilities all of which pose deadly ramifications for the insects.