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Brood ball data from the dung beetle species Phanaeus vindex exposed to warmer temperatures


Sheldon, Kimberly S.; Kirkpatrick, William H. (2022), Brood ball data from the dung beetle species Phanaeus vindex exposed to warmer temperatures , Dryad, Dataset,


Temperature profoundly impacts insect development, but plasticity of reproductive behaviours may mediate the impacts of temperature change on earlier life stages. Few studies have examined the potential for adult behavioural plasticity to buffer offspring from the warmer, more variable temperatures associated with climate change. We used a field manipulation to examine whether the dung beetle Phanaeus vindex alters breeding behaviours in response to temperature changes and whether behavioural shifts protect offspring from temperature changes. Dung beetles lay eggs inside brood balls made of dung that are buried underground. Brood ball depth impacts the temperatures offspring experience with consequences for development. We placed adult females in either control or greenhouse treatments that simultaneously increased temperature mean and variance. We found that females in greenhouse treatments produced more brood balls that were smaller and buried deeper than controls, suggesting brood ball number or burial depth may come at a cost to brood ball size, which can impact offspring nutrition. Despite being buried deeper, brood balls from the greenhouse treatment experienced warmer mean temperatures but similar amplitudes of temperature fluctuation relative to controls. Our findings suggest adult behaviours may partially buffer developing offspring from temperature changes. 


National Science Foundation, Award: 1930829

National Science Foundation, Award: 2046368

University of Tennessee, Knoxville