The influence of diurnal temperature variation on degree-day accumulation and insect life history

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Abstract

Ectotherms, such as insects, experience non-constant temperatures in nature. Daily mean temperatures can be derived from the daily maximum and minimum temperatures. However, the converse is not true and environments with the same mean temperature can exhibit very different diurnal temperate ranges. Here we apply a degree-day model for development of the grape berry moth (Paralobesia viteana, a significant vineyard pest in the northeastern USA) to investigate how different diurnal temperature range conditions can influence degree-day accumulation and, hence, insect life history. We first consider changes in diurnal temperature range independent of changes in mean temperatures. We then investigate grape berry moth life history under potential climate change conditions, increasing mean temperature via variable patterns of change to diurnal temperature range. We predict that diurnal temperature range change can substantially alter insect life history. Altering diurnal temperature range independent of the mean temperature can affect development rate and voltinism, with the magnitude of the effects dependent on whether changes occur to the daily minimum temperature (Tmin), daily maximum temperature (Tmax), or both. Allowing for an increase in mean temperature produces more marked effects on life history but, again, the patterns and magnitude depend on the nature of the change to diurnal temperature range together with the starting conditions in the local environment. The study highlights the importance of characterizing the influence of diurnal temperature range in addition to mean temperature alone.

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Chen, S., Fleischer, S. J., Saunders, M. C., & Thomas, M. B. (2015). The influence of diurnal temperature variation on degree-day accumulation and insect life history. PLoS ONE, 10(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0120772

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