Testing the climatic variability hypothesis in edaphic and subterranean Collembola (Hexapoda)


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January 2018


The climatic variability hypothesis was applied to the thermal tolerance of edaphic and cave Collembola occupying contrasting environments. Collembola belonged to four categories – trogloxene, subtroglophile, eutroglophile and troglobiont – with a different degree of affinity to subterranean habitats. Altogether, specimens of 17 species were exposed to a one-hour laboratory survival test. The impact of temperature, species and species-temperature interaction on cold and heat survival was statistically significant. There was a decrease trend in cold and heat tolerance from trogloxenes, over subtroglophiles and eutroglophiles to troglobionts. It was shown that obligate cave species, restricted to climatic-stable cave conditions, retain a functional thermal resistance, i.e. the genetically determined ability to tolerate relatively broader temperature ranges. Our results outlined the direct relationship between the thermal tolerances of species and the size of their geographic distributions. It was also observed that cold resistance of Collembola decreased significantly with increasing species body length, indicating that body size plays an important role in temperature tolerances of arthropods inhabiting soil and subterranean habitats.


Lethal Temperature, Thermal Resistance, Survival, Cave, Troglobiont, Body Size, Endemic Species, Arthropoda

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Journal of Thermal Biology, Vol. 78 (2018).