Partial submergence: an undescribed behavioral adjustment for thermoregulation at high ambient temperature in aeshnidae

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Many insects including odonates thermoregulate using a combination of behavioral and physiological mechanisms. At high ambient temperature (Ta), these mechanisms include decreased heat production and increased heat loss. Heat production can be reduced by decreasing activity. Heat loss can be enhanced by perching in a shaded microhabitat where temperature is cooler than in the surrounding environment. Aeshnids, which are intermittent endotherms, increase heat loss at high Ta also by increasing hemolymph circulation from the thorax, where most metabolic heat is produced, to the abdomen, where it dissipates to the environment by convection. While studying two aeshnid species (Anax junius and Rhionaeschna multicolor) at a Sonoran Desert (Arizona, USA) stream, I observed partially submerged mature individuals of both sexes of these species. This heretofore un-described behavior was seen only at Ta > 43 °C and almost exclusively during the hottest part of the day (15:00–17:00 hr), when the daily difference between Ta and water temperature (Tw) was, on aver-age, largest. A cooling effect of partial submergence behavior on body temperature would, therefore, presumably be most effective also during this period. Several percher species of libellulids were present at the study site. These dragonflies are not known to use endothermy for thermoregulation or to increase hemolymph circulation to the abdomen to dissipate heat at high Ta, and none was ever observed to partially submerge. It is suggested in aeshnids that partial submergence at high Ta serves a thermoregulatory function by facilitating body heat dissipation from the abdomen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-81
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Odonatology
StatePublished - 2021


  • Anax junius
  • Blue-eyed Darner
  • Body temperature
  • Common Green Darner
  • Dragonfly
  • Endothermy
  • Libellulidae
  • Odonata
  • Rhionaeschna multicolor
  • Sonoran Desert

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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