Niche and life-history differences in five highly sympatric species of Trithemis dragonflies (Odonata: Libellulidae)
Niche and life-history differences in five species of Trithemis were investigated to determine the extent of interspecific competition. Interspecific competition was mostly avoided because species favoured different habitats and microhabitats. There was the possibility of competition between larvae under conditions of lowered food concentration, where they occurred in the same habitat and microhabitat. Larvae of different species preferred specific prey taxa, but chose to feed on a different prey taxon once it was more readily available. Because species were restricted more by food size than taxon, competition for food was unlikely. Interspecific competition may have occurred between adults because the niche breadth of some species became contracted as the density of other species increased. Interspecific competition among larvae was unlikely because individuals of different sizes were present together, allowing for food partitioning. Asynchronous development therefore ensured that competition for food of the same size was reduced. Competition was also reduced by species showing peaks in abundance at different times of the year.