All climate change scenarios predict an increase in both global temperature means and the magnitude of seasonal and diel temperature variation. The nonlinear relationship between temperature and biological processes means that fluctuating temperatures lead to physiological, life history, and ecological consequences for ectothermic insects that diverge from those predicted from constant temperatures. Fluctuating temperatures that remain within permissive temperature ranges generally improve performance. By contrast, those which extend to stressful temperatures may have either positive impacts, allowing repair of damage accrued during exposure to thermal extremes, or negative impacts from cumulative damage during successive exposures. We discuss the mechanisms underlying these differing effects. Fluctuating temperatures could be used to enhance or weaken insects in applied rearing programs, and any prediction of insect performance in the field—including models of climate change or population performance—must account for the effect of fluctuating temperatures.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Literature Cited

  1. Angilletta MJ Jr. 1.  2009. Thermal Adaptation: A Theoretical and Empirical Synthesis Oxford, UK: Oxford Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  2. Arias MB, Poupin MJ, Lardies MA. 2.  2011. Plasticity of life-cycle, physiological thermal traits and Hsp70 gene expression in an insect along the ontogeny: effect of temperature variability. J. Therm. Biol. 36:355–62 [Google Scholar]
  3. Atkinson D. 3.  1994. Temperature and organism size—a biological law for ectotherms?. Adv. Ecol. Res. 25:1–58 [Google Scholar]
  4. Bauerfeind SS, Fischer K. 4.  2014. Simulating climate change: Temperature extremes but not means diminish performance in a widespread butterfly. Popul. Ecol. 56:239–50 [Google Scholar]
  5. Beardmore JA. 5.  1960. Developmental stability in constant and fluctuating temperatures. Heredity 14:411–22 [Google Scholar]
  6. Beardmore JA, Levine L. 6.  1963. Fitness and environmental variation. I. A study of some polymorphic populations of Drosophila pseudoobscura. Evolution 17:121–29 [Google Scholar]
  7. Beasley DE, Bonisoli-Alquati A, Mousseau TA. 7.  2013. The use of fluctuating asymmetry as a measure of environmentally induced developmental instability: a meta-analysis. Ecol. Indic. 30:218–26 [Google Scholar]
  8. Boardman L, Sørensen JG, Terblanche JS. 8.  2013. Physiological responses to fluctuating thermal and hydration regimes in the chill susceptible insect, Thaumatotibia leucotreta. J. Insect Physiol. 59:781–94 [Google Scholar]
  9. Bozinovic F, Bastías DA, Boher F, Clavijo-Baquet S, Estay SA, Angilletta MJ Jr. 9.  2011. The mean and variance of environmental temperature interact to determine physiological tolerance and fitness. Physiol. Biochem. Zool. 84:543–52Demonstrates, using acclimation protocol, that the mean and magnitude of FTs are equally important. [Google Scholar]
  10. Bozinovic F, Catalan TP, Estay SA, Sabat P. 10.  2013. Acclimation to daily thermal variability drives the metabolic performance curve. Evol. Ecol. Res. 15:579–87 [Google Scholar]
  11. Bradley BP. 11.  1980. Developmental stability of Drosophila melanogaster under artificial and natural selection in constant and fluctuating environments. Genetics 95:1033–42 [Google Scholar]
  12. Buckley LB, Urban MC, Angilletta MJ, Crozier LG, Rissler LJ, Sears MW. 12.  2010. Can mechanism inform species' distribution models?. Ecol. Lett. 13:1041–54 [Google Scholar]
  13. Butler CD, Trumble JT. 13.  2010. Predicting population dynamics of the parasitoid Cotesia marginiventris (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) resulting from novel interactions of temperature and selenium. Biocontrol Sci. Technol. 20:391–406 [Google Scholar]
  14. Carrington LB, Armijos MV, Lambrechts L, Barker CM, Scott TW. 14.  2013. Effects of fluctuating daily temperatures at critical thermal extremes on Aedes aegypti life-history traits. PLoS ONE 8:3e58824Demonstrates the discrepancy of results in CT versus FT experiments, highlighting that CTs underestimate or overestimate values for life history traits. [Google Scholar]
  15. Carrington LB, Armijos MV, Lambrechts L, Scott TW. 15.  2013. Fluctuations at a low mean temperature accelerate dengue virus transmission by Aedes aegypti. PLOS Negl. Trop. Dis. 7:4e2190 [Google Scholar]
  16. Carroll AL, Quiring DT. 16.  1993. Interactions between size and temperature influence fecundity and longevity of a tortricid moth, Zeiraphera canadensis. Oecologia 93:233–41 [Google Scholar]
  17. Casagrande RA, Haynes DL. 17.  1976. A predictive model for cereal leaf beetle mortality from sub-freezing temperatures. Environ. Entomol. 5:761–69 [Google Scholar]
  18. Catts EP, Goff ML. 18.  1992. Forensic entomology in criminal investigations. Annu. Rev. Entomol. 37:253–72 [Google Scholar]
  19. Chen CP, Denlinger DL. 19.  1992. Reduction of cold injury in flies using an intermittent pulse of high temperature. Cryobiology 29:138–43 [Google Scholar]
  20. Chen IC, Hill JK, Ohlemüller R, Roy DB, Thomas CD. 20.  2011. Rapid range shifts of species associated with high levels of climate warming. Science 333:60451024–26 [Google Scholar]
  21. Chidawanyika F, Terblanche JS. 21.  2011. Costs and benefits of thermal acclimation for codling moth, Cydia pomonella (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae): implications for pest control and the sterile insect release programme. Evol. Appl. 4:534–44 [Google Scholar]
  22. Chown SL, Hoffmann AA, Kristensen TN, Angilletta MJ, Stenseth NC, Pertoldi C. 22.  2010. Adapting to climate change: a perspective from evolutionary physiology. Climate Res. 43:3–15 [Google Scholar]
  23. Chown SL, Nicolson SW. 23.  2004. Insect Physiological Ecology: Mechanisms and Patterns Oxford, UK: Oxford Univ. Press [Google Scholar]
  24. Chown SL, Terblanche JS, Simpson SJ. 24.  2006. Physiological diversity in insects: ecological and evolutionary contexts. Adv. Insect Physiol. 33:50–152 [Google Scholar]
  25. Cloudsley-Thompson JL. 25.  1953. The significance of fluctuating temperatures on the physiology and ecology of insects. Entomologist 86:183–89 [Google Scholar]
  26. Colinet H. 26.  2011. Disruption of ATP homeostasis during chronic cold stress and recovery in the chill susceptible beetle (Alphitobius diaperinus). Comp. Biochem. Physiol. A 160:63–67 [Google Scholar]
  27. Colinet H, Hance T. 27.  2009. Male reproductive potential of Aphidius colemani (Hymenoptera: Aphidiinae) exposed to constant or fluctuating thermal regimes. Environ. Entomol. 38:242–49 [Google Scholar]
  28. Colinet H, Hance T. 28.  2010. Interspecific variation in the response to low temperature storage in different aphid parasitoids. Ann. Appl. Biol. 156:147–56 [Google Scholar]
  29. Colinet H, Hance T, Vernon P, Bouchereau A, Renault D. 29.  2007. Does fluctuating thermal regime trigger free amino acid production in the parasitic wasp Aphidius colemani (Hymenoptera: Aphidiinae)?. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. A 147:484–92 [Google Scholar]
  30. Colinet H, Lalouette L, Renault D. 30.  2011. A model for the time-temperature-mortality relationship in the chill-susceptible beetle, Alphitobius diaperinus, exposed to fluctuating thermal regimes. J. Therm. Biol. 36:403–8 [Google Scholar]
  31. Colinet H, Nguyen TTA, Cloutier C, Michaud D, Hance T. 31.  2007. Proteomic profiling of a parasitic wasp exposed to constant and fluctuating cold exposure. Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol. 37:1177–88 [Google Scholar]
  32. Colinet H, Renault D, Hance T, Vernon P. 32.  2006. The impact of fluctuating thermal regimes on the survival of a cold-exposed parasitic wasp, Aphidius colemani. Physiol. Entomol. 31:234–40 [Google Scholar]
  33. Cônsoli FL, Parra JRP. 33.  1995. Effects of constant and alternating temperatures on Trichogramma galloi Zucchi (Hym., Trichogrammatidae) biology II. Parasitism capacity and longevity. J. Appl. Entomol. 119:667–70 [Google Scholar]
  34. Cook WC. 34.  1927. Some effects of alternating temperatures on the growth and metabolism of cutworm larvae. J. Econ. Entomol. 20:769–82 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

Supplementary Data

  • Article Type: Review Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error