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  1. Abstract

    Insects exposed to low temperature stress can experience chill injury, but incorporating fluctuating thermoprofiles increases survival and blocks the development of sub-lethal effects. The specific parameters required for a protective thermoprofile are poorly understood, because most studies test a limited range of thermoprofiles. For example, thermoprofiles with a wave profile may perform better than a square profile, but these two profiles are rarely compared. In this study, two developmental stages of the alfalfa leafcutting bee, Megachile rotundata, eye-pigmented pupae, and emergence-ready adults, were exposed to one of eight thermoprofiles for up to 8 weeks. All the thermoprofiles had a base of 6°C and a peak temperature of either 12°C or 18°C. The duration at peak temperature varied depending on the shape of the thermoprofile, either square or wave form. Two other treatments acted as controls, a constant 6°C and a fluctuating thermal regime (FTR) with a base temperature of 6°C that was interrupted daily by a single, 1-h pulse at 20°C. Compared with constant 6°C, all the test thermoprofiles significantly improved survival. Compared with the FTR control, the thermoprofiles with a peak temperature of 18°C outperformed the 12°C profiles. Bees in the eye-pigmented stage exposed to the 18°C profiles separated into two groups based on the shape of the profile, with higher survival in the square profiles compared with the wave profiles. Bees in the emergence-ready stage exposed to 18°C profiles all had significantly higher survival than bees in the FTR controls. Counter to expectations, the least ecologically relevant thermoprofiles (square) had the highest survival rates and blocked the development of sub-lethal effects (delayed emergence).

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  2. In holometabolous insects, larval nutrition affects adult body size, a life history trait with a profound influence on performance and fitness. Individual nutritional components of larval diets are often complex and may interact with one another, necessitating the use of a geometric framework for elucidating nutritional effects. In the honey bee, Apis mellifera, nurse bees provision food to developing larvae, directly moderating growth rates and caste development. However, the eusocial nature of honey bees makes nutritional studies challenging, because diet components cannot be systematically manipulated in the hive. Using in vitro rearing, we investigated the roles and interactions between carbohydrate and protein content on larval survival, growth, and development in A. mellifera. We applied a geometric framework to determine how these two nutritional components interact across nine artificial diets. Honey bees successfully completed larval development under a wide range of protein and carbohydrate contents, with the medium protein (∼5%) diet having the highest survival. Protein and carbohydrate both had significant and non-linear effects on growth rate, with the highest growth rates observed on a medium-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. Diet composition did not have a statistically significant effect on development time. These results confirm previous findings that protein and carbohydrate content affect the growth of A. mellifera larvae. However, this study identified an interaction between carbohydrate and protein content that indicates a low-protein, high-carb diet has a negative effect on larval growth and survival. These results imply that worker recruitment in the hive would decline under low protein conditions, even when nectar abundance or honey stores are sufficient.

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