How important is thermal history? Evidence for lasting effects of developmental temperature on upper thermal limits in Drosophila melanogaster Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • A common practice in thermal biology is to take individuals directly from the field and estimate a range of thermal traits. These estimates are then used in studies aiming to understand broad scale distributional patterns, understanding and predicting the evolution of phenotypic plasticity, and generating predictions for climate change risk. However, the use of field-caught individuals in such studies ignores the fact that many traits are phenotypically plastic and will be influenced by the thermal history of the focal individuals. The current study aims to determine the extent to which estimates of upper thermal limits (CTmax), a frequently used measure for climate change risk, are sensitive to developmental and adult acclimation temperatures and whether these two forms of plasticity are reversible. Examining a temperate and tropical population of Drosophila melanogaster we show that developmental acclimation has a larger and more lasting effect on CTmax than adult acclimation. We also find evidence for an interaction between developmental and adult acclimation, particularly when flies are acclimated for a longer period, and that these effects can be population specific. These results suggest that thermal history can have lasting effects on estimates of CTmax. In addition, we provide evidence that developmental and/or adult acclimation are unlikely to contribute to substantial shifts in CTmax and that acclimation capacity may be constrained at higher temperatures.

publication date

  • 2017