Thermal sensitivity of growth and feeding in Manduca sexta caterpillars

Joel G. Kingsolver, H. Arthur Woods

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124 Scopus citations


We explore how the thermal sensitivity of organismic performance emerges from the thermal sensitivity of the underlying component processes involved, using growth and feeding of Manduca sexta caterpillars as a model system. We measured thermal performance curves for short-term rates of growth, consumption, protein (casein) digestion, amino acid (methionine) uptake, and respiration in fifth-instar caterpillars over a biologically realistic temperature range from 14°to 42°C. Growth and consumption rates increased between 14°C and 26°C, reached a maximum value near 34°C, and declined rapidly above 38°C. In contrast, protein digestion rate and respiration rate increased monotonically over the entire temperature range, and amino acid uptake rate increased with temperatures up to 38°C and then leveled off between 38°and 42°C. These results suggest that the shape and position of the thermal performance curve for growth rate-in particular the maximum at 34°C and rapid decline above 38°C-was most closely correlated with the thermal sensitivity of consumption rate; the declining growth performance above 38°C was not associated with declines in digestion or uptake rates or with accelerated respiration rates at these temperatures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-638
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiological Zoology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1997


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