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McNair Scholars Program

Simone Holliday

She/her

Education: Bachelor of Science in animal sciences and industry (December 2015)

McNair Project: Activity Levels of Plathemis lydia (2014)

Mentor: Eva Horne, Ph.D.

Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia) males are documented as being highly territorial, maintaining territories on the edge of streams and ponds where they display for reproductive females. In this study, I tested the hypothesis that P. lydia males spend more time defending landmarks than open water sites. Landmarks are defined as an object protruding from the water that functions as a central site for patrol. The study site was a human-made, spring fed pond on the Konza Prairie Biological Station in Riley County Kansas. Ten locations around the pond, with an average of 13m between locations, were selected and the behaviors of male P. lydia (flybys/activity, hovering, resting, fighting, and guarding) were recorded. Each location had a landmark and an open water site, an average of 3.5m apart. Over eight days there were 40 total observations, ten minutes at each site. The data indicate that there is a significantly positive correlation between temperature and activity levels. Guarding and fighting (p=0.043) were significantly more frequent at landmark sites than at open water sites. Activity levels (number of flybys) were significantly higher at open water sites than at landmark sites (n=40, p=0.0003). The increased activity over open water also suggests that males defend landmarks, allowing more animals to patrol outside those territories.