Mechanisms underlying thermal breadth differ by species in insects from adjacent but thermally distinct streams – A test of the climate variability hypothesis

Jackson H. Birrell, James I. Frakes, Alisha A. Shah, H. Arthur Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Climate Variability Hypothesis (CVH) predicts that ectotherms from thermally variable climates should have wider thermal tolerances than their counterparts living in stable climates. Although the CVH has been widely supported, the mechanisms underlying wider tolerance traits remain unclear. We test the CVH along with three mechanistic hypotheses that may explain how differences in tolerance limits arise: 1) Short-term Acclimation Hypothesis (mechanism: rapid, reversible plasticity), 2) Long-term Effects Hypothesis (mechanisms: developmental plasticity, epigenetics, maternal effects, or adaptation), and 3) Trade-off Hypothesis (mechanism: trade-off between short- and long-term responses). We tested these hypotheses by measuring CTMIN, CTMAX, and thermal breadths (CTMAX - CTMIN) of aquatic mayfly and stonefly nymphs from adjacent streams with distinctly different levels of thermal variation following acclimation to either cool, control, and warm conditions. In one stream, daily mean temperature varied by about 5 °C annually, whereas in the other, it varied by more than 25 °C. In support of the CVH, we found that mayfly and stonefly nymphs from the thermally variable stream had broader thermal tolerances than those from the thermally stable stream. However, support for the mechanistic hypotheses differed by species. Mayflies appear to rely on long-term strategies for maintaining broader thermal limits, whereas stoneflies achieve broader thermal limits via short-term plasticity. We found no support for the Trade-off Hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103435
Pages (from-to)103435
JournalJournal of Thermal Biology
Volume112
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2023

Keywords

  • Acclimation
  • Local adaptation
  • Plasticity
  • Temperature
  • Thermal physiology
  • Thermal tolerance
  • Climate
  • Animals
  • Ephemeroptera
  • Insecta
  • Acclimatization
  • Nymph

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