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Keywords:

  • clock models;
  • diapause;
  • insect photoperiodism

Abstract

This review examines some of the models to account for time measurement in insect photoperiodism. It considers the supporting evidence for these models and the attempts to discriminate among them. Although hourglass timers may exist, it is suggested that most photoperiodic mechanisms, including many hourglass-like timers, are circadian-based, making Bünning's original hypothesis, that the circadian system somehow provides the essential “clockwork” for photoperiodic timing, the most persuasive unifying principle. The apparent diversity among modern species in their modes of time measurement is probably the result of differences between the underlying circadian systems that were adopted for seasonal night length measurement as the insects, or groups of insects, moved northwards into areas with a pronounced winter season. Photoperiodic time measurement, therefore, exhibits both unity (in their common circadian basis) and diversity in detail. Attention to this diversity may provide invaluable insights into the problem of photoperiodic time measurement at comparative, and molecular, levels.