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Metabolic rate, evaporative water loss and field activity in response to temperature in an ichneumonid wasp

Authors

  • S. Tomlinson,

    Corresponding author
    1. Kings Park and Botanic Gardens, The Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, West Perth, WA, Australia
    • School of Animal Biology, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia
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  • R. D. Phillips

    1. Kings Park and Botanic Gardens, The Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, West Perth, WA, Australia
    2. Evolution, Ecology and Genetics, Research School of Biology, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia
    3. School of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia
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Correspondence

Sean Tomlinson, Science Division, Kings Park and Botanic Gardens, The Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, Fraser Avenue, West Perth, WA 6005, Australia.

Email: sean.tomlinson@bgpa.wa.gov.au

Abstract

High ambient temperatures can adversely affect insects through high evaporative water loss (EWL) and reduction of metabolic activity through enzyme denaturation. Establishing the relationship between the temperature at which these processes become detrimental and regulatory behaviour is critical in resolving the mechanisms by which insects cope with physiologically stressful environments. Here, we compare levels of metabolic rate and EWL measured by flow-through respirometry with field activity in the ichneumonid wasp Lissopimpla excelsa. Metabolic rate increased to a maximum of 10.8 ± 0.4 mLCO2.g−1.h−1 at 35°C before decreasing to 8.4 ± 0.4 mLCO2.g−1.h−1 at Ta = 40°C. EWL showed an exponential pattern of increase, with a significant increase in EWL from Ta = 12°C to Ta = 35 and 40°C. Male wasps were active in the field from Ta = 20.1 to 36.8°C (peak activity Ta = 26.5°C and relative humidity = 44.4%), though activity levels were most strongly correlated with time of day. Being active in the mornings may be advantageous in that temperatures are warm enough to maintain activity but avoid excess energy expenditure and EWL. Furthermore, food or calling females may be most abundant during this period. Based on a consensus allometric scaling relationship derived for insect resting metabolic rates, the metabolic rate of L. excelsa at Ta = 25°C was higher than predicted, as was EWL. Since the present study is the first describing the metabolic physiology of an ichneumonid wasp, it remains unclear whether this pattern is characteristic of ichneumonids in general of L. excelsa in particular.

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