Susceptibility to global warming relies on how thermal tolerances respond to increasing temperatures through plasticity or evolution. Climatic adaptation can be assessed examining the geographic variation in thermal-related traits. We studied latitudinal patterns in heat tolerance in Drosophila subobscura reared at two temperatures. We used four static stressful temperatures to estimate the thermal death time curves (TDT), and two ramping assays with fast and slow heating rates. TDT curves allow estimating the critical thermal maximum CTmax, by extrapolating to the temperature that would knockdown the flies almost 'instantaneously', and the thermal sensitivity to increasing stressful temperatures. We found a positive latitudinal cline for CTmax, but no clinal pattern for knockdown temperatures estimated from the ramping assays. Although high-latitude populations were more tolerant to an acute heat stress, they were also more sensitive to prolonged exposure to less stressful temperatures, supporting a trade-off between acute and chronic heat tolerances. Conversely, developmental plasticity did not affect CTmax but increased the tolerance to chronic heat exposition. The patterns observed from the TDT curves help to understand why the relationship between heat tolerance and latitude depends on the methodology used and, therefore, these curves provide a more complete and reliable measurement of heat tolerance.
|Date made available||17 Aug 2015|