Within-generation variation of critical thermal limits in adult Mediterranean and Natal fruit flies Ceratitis capitata and Ceratitis rosa: Thermal history affects short-term responses to temperature

Casper Nyamukondiwa, John S. Terblanche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

52 Citations (Scopus)


Insect thermal tolerance shows a range of responses to thermal history depending on the duration and severity of exposure. However, few studies have investigated these effects under relatively modest temperature variation or the interactions between short- and longer-term exposures. In the present study, using a full-factorial design, 1 week-long acclimation responses of critical thermal minimum (CTmin) and critical thermal maximum (CTmax) to temperatures of 20, 25 and 30 °C are investigated, as well as their interactions with short-term (2 h) sub-lethal temperature exposures to these same conditions (20, 25 and 30 °C), in two fruit fly species Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) and Ceratitis rosa Karsch from South Africa. Flies generally improve heat tolerance with high temperature acclimation and resist low temperatures better after acclimation to cooler conditions. However, in several cases, significant interaction effects are evident for CTmax and CTmin between short- and long-term temperature treatments. Furthermore, to better comprehend the flies' responses to natural microclimate conditions, the effects of variation in heating and cooling rates on CTmax and CTmin are explored. Slower heating rates result in higher CTmax, whereas slower cooling rates elicit lower CTmin, although more variation is detected in CTmin than in CTmax (approximately 1.2 versus 0.5 °C). Critical thermal limits estimated under conditions that most closely approximate natural diurnal temperature fluctuations (rate: 0.06 °C min-1) indicate a CTmax of approximately 42 °C and a CTmin of approximately 6 °C for these species in the wild, although some variation between these species has been found previously in CTmax. In conclusion, the results suggest critical thermal limits of adult fruit flies are moderated by temperature variation at both short and long time scales and may comprise both reversible and irreversible components.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-264
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiological Entomology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Insect Science
  • Physiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this