Evol Ecol Res 6: 579-593 (2004)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Adaptive latitudinal shifts in the thermal physiology of a terrestrial isopod

Luis E. Castañeda,1,2 Marco A. Lardies2* and Francisco Bozinovic2

1Instituto de Ecología y Evolucíon, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Austral de Chile, Casilla 567, Valdivia and  2Center for Advanced Studies in Ecology & Biodiversity, Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, CP 6513677, Chile

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: mlardies@genes.bio.puc.cl


Temperature is the most important abiotic factor affecting physiology, ecology and evolution in ectotherms. Do organisms broadly distributed along a latitudinal gradient adapt to local differences in temperature? In ectotherms this question has played a central role in evolutionary physiology. By means of an extensive field study and laboratory experiments, we tested the existence of local adaptations in thermal traits along 10° of latitude in northern-central Chile. We studied behavioural and thermal traits that have been directly connected with the thermal physiology of ectotherms, along the latitudinal gradient. Using three populations of the common woodlouse (terrestrial isopod), Porcellio laevis, we examined changes in thermal physiology traits (i.e. thermal tolerance, thermal performance) and behavioural traits (i.e. thermoregulation in the field and the laboratory). Performance (i.e. righting response speed) reached a maximum value at intermediate temperatures, and was highest for the northern population. Chill-coma temperature showed an increase towards high latitude, while heat-coma temperature did not vary between populations. On the other hand, optimum temperature was negatively correlated with latitude. Thus, southern woodlice appear to have evolved towards becoming low-temperature specialists, whereas woodlice from warm regions demonstrate low cold tolerance as well as a higher optimum temperature. Our results demonstrate that P. laevis woodlice from different parts of the distribution range show patterns in thermal physiology that covary with the thermal environment (i.e. latitude); thus, P. laevis adapts to local environments to increase its performance.

Keywords: ectotherm, thermal sensitivity, thermal tolerance, latitudinal gradient, local adaptation, temperature.

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        © 2004 Marco A. Lardies. All EER articles are copyrighted by their authors. All authors endorse, permit and license Evolutionary Ecology Ltd. to grant its subscribing institutions/libraries the copying privileges specified below without additional consideration or payment to them or to Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. These endorsements, in writing, are on file in the office of Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. Consult authors for permission to use any portion of their work in derivative works, compilations or to distribute their work in any commercial manner.

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