Lack of evolutionary adjustment to ambient temperature in highly specialized cave beetles
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Background A key question in evolutionary biology is the relationship between species traits and their habitats. Caves offer an ideal model to test the adjustment of species to their surrounding temperature, as they provide homogeneous and simple environments. We compared two species living under different thermal conditions within a lineage of Pyrenean beetles highly modified for the subterranean life since the Miocene. One, Troglocharinus fonti, is found in caves at 4-11°C in the ancestral Pyrenean range. The second, T. ferreri, inhabits the coastal area of Catalonia since the early Pliocene, and lives at 14-16°C. Results We found no differences in their short term upper thermal limit (ca. 50°C), similar to that of most organisms, or their lower thermal limit (ca. -2.5°C), higher than for most temperate insects and suggesting the absence of cryoprotectants. In longer term tests (7 days) survival between 6-20°C was almost 100% for both species plus two outgroups of the same lineage, but all four died between 23-25°C, without significant differences between them. Conclusions Our results suggest that species in this lineage have lost some of the thermoregulatory mechanisms common in temperate insects, as their inferred default tolerance range is larger than the thermal variation experienced through their whole evolutionary history.
Acclimation, Adaptation, Pyrenees, Thermal Tolerance, Subterranean Environment
BMC Evolutionary Biology, Vol. 15, no. 10 (2015-02-04).
Rizzo, Valeria; Sanchez-Fernandez, David; Fresneda, Javier; Cieslak, Alexandra; and Ribera, Ignacio, "Lack of evolutionary adjustment to ambient temperature in highly specialized cave beetles" (2015). KIP Articles. 3038.