Lamelas-López, L., Florencio, M., Borges, P.A.V. & Cordero Rivera, A. (2017) Larval development and growth ratios of Odonata of the Azores islands.Limnology, 18, 71–83. DOI:10.1007/s10201-016-0490-y (IF2017 1,130; Q3 Limnology)
To fully understand odonate life cycles, it is vital to analyse the patterns of larval growth, which are tightly associated with variations in environmental factors. However, the identification of larval instars is often difficult, especially for early development stages. We hypothesise that pond hydroperiod influences odonate larval growth, and test this idea with novel information about the environmental characteristics of 12 study ponds in Terceira Island (Azores). This study, which represents the first analysis of larval development of Odonata in the Azores, involved determining the instars of development and growth ratios. We measured the morphological characteristics of 898 Odonata larvae, and found that they significantly differed between temporary and permanent ponds. To estimate the larval instars, we used two methods: frequency distribution methods and correlation diagrams between body characteristics. The first method was the most effective, allowing the estimation of 17 instars for Anax imperator, 13 for Sympetrum fonscolombii and 10 for Ischnura hastata, as well as growth ratios between instars for head width, total length, abdomen length, wings and antenna length. Our results also suggest that a combination of the two methods is the most appropriate strategy for estimating the number of instars and growth ratios during larval development.