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J Exp Biol. 2006 Mar;209(Pt 6):1064-73.

The relative contributions of developmental plasticity and adult acclimation to physiological variation in the tsetse fly, Glossina pallidipes (Diptera, Glossinidae).

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Spatial, Physiological and Conservation Ecology Group, Department of Botany and Zoology, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602, Stellenbosch, South Africa.


Recent reviews of the adaptive hypotheses for animal responses to acclimation have highlighted the importance of distinguishing between developmental and adult (non-developmental) phenotypic plasticity. There has been little work, however, on separating the effects of developmental plasticity from adult acclimation on physiological traits. Therefore, we investigated the relative contributions of these two distinct forms of plasticity to the environmental physiology of adult tsetse flies by exposing developing pupae or adult flies to different temperatures and comparing their responses. We also exposed flies to different temperatures during development and re-exposed them as adults to the same temperatures, to investigate possible cumulative effects. Critical thermal maxima were relatively inflexible in response to acclimation temperatures (21, 25, 29 degrees C) with plasticity type accounting for the majority of the variation (49-67%, nested ANOVA). By contrast, acclimation had a larger effect on critical thermal minima with treatment temperature accounting for most of the variance (84-92%). Surprisingly little of the variance in desiccation rate could be explained by plasticity type (30-47%). The only significant effect of acclimation temperature on standard (resting) metabolic rate of adult flies was at 21 degrees C, resulting in treatment temperature, rather than plasticity type, accounting for the majority of the variance (30-76%). This study demonstrates that the stage at which acclimation takes place has significant, though often different, effects on several adult physiological traits in G. pallidipes, and therefore that it is not only important to consider the form of plasticity but also the direction of the response and its significance from a life-history perspective.

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