More dragonfly terminal appendages

Some species of dragonflies display sexual dimorphism; females are polymorphic for a smaller subset of those species. Andromorph females are male-like in color; heteromorph females are duller in color than males.

Terminal appendages are important field markers that may be used to differentiate adult males and adult andromorph females of the same species.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

08 OCT 2013 | Huntley Meadows Park | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

Andromorph female Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum), like the one shown below, are less common than heteromorph females. Andromorphs have a red abdomen with black rings, like male Blue-faced Meadowhawks; unlike males, most female faces are tan and their terminal appendages look different than male appendages.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (female)

08 OCT 2013 | Huntley Meadows Park | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (female)

The following photo shows a heteromorph female Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly. Heteromorphs have a tan abdomen with black rings.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (female)

27 SEP 2013 | Huntley Meadows Park | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (female)

Editor’s Note: Some odonate experts favor the term “polychromatism” rather than “polymorphism.”

Polychromatism has often (inappropriately) been termed polymorphism. I follow the terminology recommended by Don Hilton (1987), in which the female coloration is termed gynochromatypic and that of the male androchromatypic. Source Credit: Corbet, Phillip S (2004). Dragonflies: Behaviour and Ecology of Odonata. [The 1962 edition of the book is available online: A Biology of Dragonflies.]

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Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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15 Responses to “More dragonfly terminal appendages”

  1. Terminal appendages (male, female) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] some of my digital photography and videography. « Full circle More terminal appendages […]

  2. A sampler of male dragonfly claspers (Part 1) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Showcasing some of my digital photography and videography. « More terminal appendages […]

  3. A sampler of male dragonfly claspers (Part 2) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] More terminal appendages […]

  4. Cavalcade of color, continued | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] 21 OCT 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male) […]

  5. Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (males) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] The following photo gallery features two of several Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted on 15 October 2015 at Huntley Meadows Park. Both individuals are males, as indicated by their coloration and terminal appendages. […]

  6. Return to terra firma | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Several Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) were spotted near two vernal pools at a remote location in Huntley Meadows Park. All of these individuals are males, as indicated by their coloration and terminal appendages. […]

  7. Another new species discovered at JMAWR | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] This individual is a female andromorph, as indicated by her male-like coloration, lack of hamules, and terminal appendages. […]

  8. Perchers like perching on Coleman | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] A Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) was photographed as it perched on my Coleman camp stool.  This individual is a male, as indicated by his coloration and terminal appendages. […]

  9. New late-date for Blue-faced Meadowhawk | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] 06 NOV 2016 | 10:37 AM | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male) […]

  10. Post update | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] This individual is a female heteromorph, as indicated by her tan coloration and terminal appendages. […]

  11. New discoveries in 2016 | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] SEP 2015 | JMAWR | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (female […]

  12. Top 10 Photos of 2016 | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] 12 SEP 2016 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male) […]

  13. Peopoll’s Choice Awards – Top 10 Photos of 2016 | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] 12 SEP 2016 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male) […]

  14. Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male, malformed) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] A Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) was spotted near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). This individual is a male, as indicated by his coloration and terminal appendages. […]

  15. Blue-faced Meadowhawks (mating pair) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] female is a heteromorph, as indicated by her tan […]

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