Response of Development and Body Mass to Daily Temperature Fluctuations: a Study on Tribolium castaneum

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© 2016 The Author(s) Differences in thermal regimes are of paramount importance in insect development. However, experiments that examine trait development under constant temperature conditions may yield less evolutionarily relevant results than those that take naturally occurring temperature fluctuations into account. We investigated the effect of different temperature regimes (constant 30 °C, constant 35 °C, fluctuating with a daily mean of 30 °C, or fluctuating with a daily mean of 35 °C) on sex-specific development time and body mass in Tribolium castaneum. Using a half-sib breeding design, we also examined whether there is any evidence for genotype-by-environment interactions (GEI) for the studied traits. In response to fluctuating temperature regimes, beetles demonstrated reaction norm patterns in which thermal fluctuations influenced traits negatively above the species’ thermal optimum but had little to no effect close to the thermal optimum. Estimated heritabilities of development time were in general low and non-significant. In case of body mass of pupae and adults, despite significant genetic variance, we did not find any GEI due to crossing of reaction norms, both between temperatures and between variability treatments. We have observed a weak tendency towards higher heritabilities of adult and pupa body mass in optimal fluctuating thermal conditions. Thus, we have not found any biasing effect of stable thermal conditions as compared to fluctuating temperatures on the breeding values of heritable body-size traits. Contrary to this we have observed a strong population-wide effect of thermal fluctuations, indicated by the significant temperature-fluctuations interaction in both adult and pupa mass.




Kramarz, P., Małek, D., Naumiec, K., Zając, K., & Drobniak, S. M. (2016). Response of Development and Body Mass to Daily Temperature Fluctuations: a Study on Tribolium castaneum. Evolutionary Biology, 43(3), 356–367.

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