Temperature and resource availability are key elements known to limit the occurrence and survival of arthropods in the wild. In the current era of climate change, critical thermal limits and the factors affecting these may be of particular importance. We therefore investigated the critical thermal maxima (CTmax) of adult Zygogramma bicolorata beetles, a biological control agent for the invasive plant Parthenium hysterophorus, in relation to thermal acclimation, hardening, age, and food availability using static (constant) and dynamic (ramping) protocols. Increasing temperatures and exposure times reduced heat survival. In general, older age and lack of food reduced heat tolerance, suggesting an important impact of resource availability. Acclimation at constant temperatures did not affect CTmax, while fluctuating thermal conditions resulted in a substantial increase. Hardening at 33°C and 35°C improved heat survival in fed young and mid-aged but only partly in old beetles, while CTmax remained unaffected by hardening throughout. These findings stress the importance of methodology when assessing heat tolerance. Temperature data recorded in the field revealed that upper thermal limits are at least occasionally reached in nature. Our results therefore suggest that the occurrence of heat waves may influence the performance and survival of Z. bicolorata, potentially impacting on its field establishment and effectiveness as a biological control agent.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)