Phenotypic plasticity and development of cold-season insects (Coleoptera: Leiodidae) and their response to climatic change
European Journal of Entomology
Cold-season beetles, Catops nigricans Spence, Choleva agilis Illiger and Choleva elongata Payk., i.e. beetles which start to lay eggs in autumn, which are active during the winter in the adult stage and develop from the egg stage to the adult stage mainly during the winter months, were collected from various locations in north-western Europe and reared in the laboratory at varying tem peratures and photoperiods. Reproduction of all species started in autumn and continued during the winter
... ng the winter months. Highest reproductive and survival rates occurred at low temperatures and within a small thermal window ranging from 5° to 10°C: The fitness of individuals decreased at higher and lower temperatures. The lower thermal threshold for all developmental stages was in the range from -5°C to +2°C. The metabolisms of the species were independent of temperature in both dormant and non-dormant stages and were elevated in the low temperature range in comparison to other species which show a temperature-dependent reaction pattern. Optimal dates for reproduction were determined by the duration of an obligatory adult summer diapause. In C. nigricans, which favours the litter layer of deciduous forests, this duration was fine-tuned by exogenic factors, such as photoperiod and temperature. In contrast, the soil-inhabiting species Ch. elongata showed a homeostatic response pattern, independent of temperature and photo period. Heritability (h2) of the duration of diapause was approximately 0.26 in C. nigricans, less pronounced in Ch. agilis (ca. 0.12) and not evident in the subterranean species Ch. elongata. All three species compensated for the vagaries of climate through bet-hedging tactics. Bet-hedging is so pervasive that a recent substantial increase in temperature seems to have a negligible effect on the distribution pattern of all three species. Based on lifehistory data it is conceivable that both soil-inhabiting Choleva species, which require a relatively low thermal sum for their develop ment, were already present in western Europe during the sub-arctic conditions when ice shields reached their maximum extension during glacial periods by shifting their activity from the cold to the warm season. The Atlantic fringe north of the Pyrenees, where the climate was not cold enough for permafrost during glacial stages, was probably the only refuge where Ch. elongata might have survived. In contrast, the Mediterranean region should have been the northernmost refuge for C. nigricans during glacial periods. This species has relatively high day-degree requirements (= 1150 d°) for individual development when compared to both Choleva species (= 700 d°).