Effect of thermal acclimation on preferred temperatures in two mygalomorph spiders inhabiting contrasting habitats


Mauricio Canals, Facultad de Ciencias, Departamento de Ciencias Ecológicas, Universidad de Chile, Santiago 7800024, Chile. Tel.: +56 2 9787232; e-mail: mcanals@uchile.cl


Variations in the preferred temperatures during the rest periods of Grammostola rosea Walckenaer and Paraphysa parvula Pocock, two mygalomorph spiders occupying different habitats in central Chile, are analyzed. The former inhabits arid and semi-arid lowland near plant communities, composed of shrubs (evergreens with small leathery leaves) and small trees; the latter is found in the central mountains of the Chilean Andes, above 2000 m.a.s.l. The preferred temperatures of these spiders at different times of day and exposure to cold (15 °C) and warm (25 °C) acclimation temperatures are compared. Body mass does not affect the preferred temperature of the larger spider G. rosea, although P. parvula, a spider with half of the body mass of G. rosea, shows a decrease in preferred temperature with body mass. This can be explained by a higher plasticity and thermal sensitivity of the smaller species as result of increased surface : volume ratio. The preferred temperature increases with the hour of the day under both acclimation conditions in P. parvula and in cold-acclimated G. rosea, which is likely associated with crepuscular and nocturnal behaviour in both species. Grammostola rosea shows temperature preferences lower than those of P. parvula under both acclimation conditions. The increase of the acclimation temperature from 15 to 25 °C results in an increment of 2–3 °C in the preferred temperature of P. parvula but only 0.2 °C in that of G. rosea. Two contrasting lifestyle strategies are found: a small mygalomorph spider with phenotypic plasticity and adaptation to the fluctuating environment of high altitude, and a large mygalomorph spider with higher thermal inertia adapted to the more stable environment of lowlands.