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PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e32758. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032758. Epub 2012 Mar 9.

Validity of thermal ramping assays used to assess thermal tolerance in arthropods.

Author information

  • 1Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark. Biojo@biology.au.dk

Abstract

Proper assessment of environmental resistance of animals is critical for the ability of researchers to understand how variation in environmental conditions influence population and species abundance. This is also the case for studies of upper thermal limits in insects, where researchers studying animals under laboratory conditions must select appropriate methodology on which conclusions can be drawn. Ideally these methods should precisely estimate the trait of interest and also be biological meaningful. In an attempt to develop such tests it has been proposed that thermal ramping assays are useful assays for small insects because they incorporate an ecologically relevant gradual temperature change. However, recent model-based papers have suggested that estimates of thermal resistance may be strongly confounded by simultaneous starvation and dehydration stress. In the present study we empirically test these model predictions using two sets of independent experiments. We clearly demonstrate that results from ramping assays of small insects (Drosophila melanogaster) are not compromised by starvation- or dehydration-stress. Firstly we show that the mild disturbance of water and energy balance of D. melanogaster experienced during the ramping tests does not confound heat tolerance estimates. Secondly we show that flies pre-exposed to starvation and dehydration have "normal" heat tolerance and that resistance to heat stress is independent of the energetic and water status of the flies. On the basis of our results we discuss the assumptions used in recent model papers and present arguments as to why the ramping assay is both a valid and ecologically relevant way to measure thermal resistance in insects.

PMID:
22427876
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3302897
Free PMC Article

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