Within populations, phenotypic plasticity may allow adaptive phenotypic variation in response to selection generated by environmental heterogeneity. For instance, in multivoltine species, seasonal changes between and within generations may trigger morphological and physiological variation enhancing fitness under different environmental conditions. These seasonal changes may irreversibly affect adult phenotypes when experienced during development. Yet, the irreversible effects of developmental plasticity on adult morphology have rarely been linked to life-history traits even though they may affect different fitness components such as reproduction, mobility and self-maintenance. To address this issue, we raised larvae of Pieris napi butterflies under warm or cool conditions to subsequently compare adult performance in terms of reproduction performance (as assessed through fecundity), displacement capacity (as assessed through flight propensity and endurance) and self-maintenance (as assessed through the measurement of oxidative markers). As expected in ectotherms, individuals developed faster under warm conditions and were smaller than individuals developing under cool conditions. They also had more slender wings and showed a higher wing surface ratio. These morphological differences were associated with changes in the reproductive and flight performances of adults, as individuals developing under warm conditions laid fewer eggs and flew larger distances. Accordingly, the examination of their oxidative status suggested that individuals developing under warm conditions invested more strongly into self-maintenance than individuals developing under cool conditions (possibly at the expense of reproduction). Overall, our results indicate that developmental conditions have long-term consequences on several adult traits in butterflies. This plasticity likely acts on life history strategies for each generation to keep pace with seasonal variations and may facilitate acclimation processes in the context of climate change.
Irreversible impact of early thermal conditions: an integrative study of developmental plasticity linked to mobility in a butterfly species
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- Funder(s): Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
- Award Id(s): Research Training Group (RTG 2010) "Biological RESPONSEs to Novel and Changing Environments"
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- Version of Record 01 February 2022
- Accepted Manuscript 06 January 2022
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Anaïs Degut, Klaus Fischer, Martin Quque, François Criscuolo, Peter Michalik, Michaël Beaulieu; Irreversible impact of early thermal conditions: an integrative study of developmental plasticity linked to mobility in a butterfly species. J Exp Biol 2022; jeb.243724. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.243724
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