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Keywords:

  • climate change;
  • developmental threshold;
  • incipient hybrid species;
  • metabolic cost;
  • Papilionidae;
  • post-diapause delays;
  • thermal stress

Abstract  It is generally thought that insects inhabiting lower latitudes are more severely impacted by changes in their thermal environment than are high latitude species. This is attributed to the wider range of temperatures to which high-latitude species are exposed. By contrast, low-latitude species have typically evolved in more thermally stable environments with a narrower range of temperature variation. However, deviation from this pattern can occur and here we report that under variable winter conditions a higher latitude species may be more sensitive to thermal variation than its lower latitude sister species. Using split broods, we examined the survival and adult emergence success of diapausing pupae of Papilio canadensis and P. glaucus, as well as a unique, recombinant hybrid population (“late-flight”) to short periods of mid-winter cold and heat stress. Our results indicate that the higher latitude, univoltine populations (P. canadensis and late-flights) exhibit lower pupal survival than the lower latitude, facultative diapauser (P. glaucus) for all mid-winter thermal stress treatments, both high and low. Size differences alone do not appear to account for the observed differences in survival or metabolic costs in these three phenotypes, as late-flight individuals are similar in size to P. glaucus. We attribute the observed differences in survival and weight loss to potential metabolic differences and variation in the intensity of diapause, in addition to divergent adaptation to winter precipitation levels (e.g. snow cover) and the influences this may have on microhabitat temperature moderation.