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J Insect Sci. 2009;9:1-8. doi: 10.1673/031.009.6801.

High temperature effects on water loss and survival examining the hardiness of female adults of the spider beetles, Mezium affine and Gibbium aequinoctiale.

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Department of Biology, Wittenberg University, Ward Street at North Wittenberg Avenue, Springfield, OH 45501, USA.


A remarkable ability to tolerate temperatures as high as 52 degrees C for Mezium affine Boieldieu and 56 degrees C for Gibbium aequinoctiale Boieldieu (Coleoptera: Anobiidae) was discovered as part of a water balance study that was conducted to determine whether desiccation-resistance (xerophilic water balance classification) is linked to survival at high temperature. Characteristics of the heat shock response were an intermediate, reversible level of injury, appearing as though dead; greater recovery from heat shock by G. aequinoctiale (57%) than M. affine (30%) that supplemented higher temperature survival by G. aequinoctiale; and lack of protection generated by conditioning at sublethal temperature. Heatinduced mortality is attributed to an abrupt, accelerated water loss at 50 degrees C for M. affine and 54 degrees C for G. aequinoctiale, not to the species (M. affine) that loses water the slowest and has the lower activation energy, E(a) as a measure of cuticular boundary effectiveness. These temperatures where water loss increases sharply are not critical transition temperatures because Arrhenius analysis causes them to be erased (uninterrupted Boltzmann function) and E(a) fails to change when cuticular lipid from these beetles is removed. Our conclusion is that the temperature thresholds for survival and accelerated water loss closely match, and the key survival element in hot and dry environments contributing to wide distribution of G. aequinoctiale and M. affine derives from rising temperature prompting entry into quiescence and a resistance in cuticular lipid fluidity.

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