Experimental winter warming modifies thermal performance and primes acorn ants for warm weather

Heidi J. MacLean, Clint Penick, Robert R. Dunn, Sarah E. Diamond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The frequency of warm winter days is increasing under global climate change, but how organisms respond to warmer winters is not well understood. Most studies focus on growing season responses to warming. Locomotor performance is often highly sensitive to temperature, and can determine fitness outcomes through a variety of mechanisms including resource acquisition and predator escape. As a consequence, locomotor performance, and its impacts on fitness, may be strongly affected by winter warming in winter-active species. Here we use the acorn ant, Temnothorax curvispinosus, to explore how thermal performance (temperature-driven plasticity) in running speed is influenced by experimental winter warming of 3–5 °C above ambient in a field setting. We used running speed as a measure of performance as it is a common locomotor trait that influences acquisition of nest sites and food in acorn ants. Experimental winter warming significantly altered thermal performance for running speed at high (26 and 36 °C) but not low test temperatures (6 and 16 °C). Although we saw little differentiation in thermal performance at cooler test temperatures, we saw a marked increase in running speed at the hotter test temperatures for ants that experienced warmer winters compared with those that experienced cooler winters. Our results provide evidence that overwintering temperatures can substantially influence organismal performance, and suggest that we cannot ignore overwintering effects when forecasting organismal responses to environmental changes in temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-81
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Volume100
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Ants
Weather
Formicidae
weather
Hot Temperature
heat
Running
Temperature
fruits
winter
temperature
coolers
overwintering
Climate Change
Temnothorax
testing
nesting sites
Food
growing season
climate change

Keywords

  • Ants
  • Climate change
  • Experimental climate warming
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Running speed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Insect Science

Cite this

Experimental winter warming modifies thermal performance and primes acorn ants for warm weather. / MacLean, Heidi J.; Penick, Clint; Dunn, Robert R.; Diamond, Sarah E.

In: Journal of Insect Physiology, Vol. 100, 01.07.2017, p. 77-81.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

MacLean, Heidi J. ; Penick, Clint ; Dunn, Robert R. ; Diamond, Sarah E. / Experimental winter warming modifies thermal performance and primes acorn ants for warm weather. In: Journal of Insect Physiology. 2017 ; Vol. 100. pp. 77-81.
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