Temperature is a key abiotic condition that limits the distributions of organisms, and forest insects are particularly sensitive to thermal extremes. Whereas winged adult insects generally are able to escape unfavorable temperatures, other less-vagile insects (e.g., larvae) must withstand local microclimatic conditions to survive. Here, we measured the thermal tolerance of the larvae of three saproxylic beetle species that are common inhabitants of coarse woody debris (CWD) in temperate forests of eastern North America: Lucanus elaphus Fabricius (Lucanidae), Dendroides canadensis Latreille (Pyrochroidae), and Odontotaenius disjunctus Illiger (Passalidae). We determined how their critical thermal maxima (CTmax) vary with body size (mass), and measured the thermal profiles of CWD representing the range of microhabitats occupied by these species. Average CTmax differed among the three species and increased with mass intraspecifically. However, mass was not a good predictor of thermal tolerance among species. Temperature ramp rate and time in captivity also influenced larval CTmax, but only for D. canadensis and L. elaphus respectively. Heating profiles within relatively dry CWD sometimes exceeded the CTmax of the beetle larvae, and deeper portions of CWD were generally cooler. Interspecific differences in CTmax were not fully explained by microhabitat association, but the results suggest that the distribution of some species within a forest can be affected by local thermal extremes. Understanding the responses of saproxylic beetle larvae to warming habitats will help predict shifts in community structure and ecosystem functioning in light of climate change and increasing habitat fragmentation.
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Annals of the Entomological Society of America
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- 360 to 364
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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1. Critical thermal limits represent an important component of an organism's capacity to cope with future temperature changes. Understanding the drivers of variation in these traits may uncover patterns in physiological vulnerability to climate change. Local temperature extremes have emerged as a major driver of thermal limits, although their effects can be mediated by the exploitation of fine‐scale spatial variation in temperature through behavioural thermoregulation.
2. Here, we investigated thermal limits along elevation gradients within and between two cold‐water frog species (
Ascaphusspp.), one with a coastal distribution ( A. truei) and the other with a continental range ( A. montanus). We quantified thermal limits for over 700 tadpoles, representing multiple populations from each species. We combined local temporal and fine‐scale spatial temperature data to quantify local thermal landscapes (i.e., thermalscapes), including the opportunity for behavioural thermoregulation.
3. Lower thermal limits for either species could not be reached experimentally without the water freezing, suggesting that cold tolerance is <0.3°C. By contrast, upper thermal limits varied among populations, but this variation only reflected local temperature extremes in
A. montanus, perhaps as a consequence of the greater variation in stream temperatures across its range. Lastly, we found minimal fine‐scale spatial variability in temperature, suggesting limited opportunity for behavioural thermoregulation and thus increased vulnerability to warming for all populations.
4. By quantifying local thermalscapes, we uncovered different trends in the relative vulnerability of populations across elevation for each species. In
A. truei, physiological vulnerability decreased with elevation, whereas in A. montanus, all populations were equally physiologically vulnerable. These results highlight how similar environments can differentially shape physiological tolerance and patterns of vulnerability of species, and in turn impact their vulnerability to future warming.