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Plastic responses of survival and fertility following heat stress in pupal and adult Drosophila virilis


Walsh, Benjamin (2022), Plastic responses of survival and fertility following heat stress in pupal and adult Drosophila virilis, Dryad, Dataset,


The impact of rising global temperatures on survival and reproduction is putting many species at risk of extinction. In particular, it has recently been shown that thermal effects on reproduction, particularly limits to male fertility, can underpin species distributions in insects. However, the physiological factors influencing fertility at high temperatures are poorly understood. Key factors that affect somatic thermal tolerance such as hardening, the ability to phenotypically increase thermal tolerance after a mild heat shock, and the differential impact of temperature on different life stages, are largely unexplored for thermal fertility tolerance. Here, we examine the impact of high temperatures on male fertility in the cosmopolitan fruit fly Drosophila virilis. We first determined whether temperature stress at either the pupal or adult life-history stage impacts fertility. We then tested the capacity for heat-hardening to mitigate heat-induced sterility. We found that thermal stress reduces fertility in different ways in pupae and adults. Pupal heat stress delays sexual maturity, whereas males heated as adults can reproduce initially following heat stress, but lose the ability to produce offspring. We also found evidence that while heat-hardening in D. virilis can improve high temperature survival, there is no significant protective impact of this same hardening treatment on fertility. These results suggest that males may be unable to prevent the costs of high temperature stress on fertility through heat-hardening which limits a species’ ability to quickly and effectively reduce fertility loss in the face of short-term high temperature events.


All statistical analyses in R.


Natural Environment Research Council, Award: ACCE DTP