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Keywords:

  • climate change;
  • Drosophila ananassae;
  • desiccation resistance;
  • life history trait;
  • range expansion;
  • western Himalayas

Abstract

During the past two to three decades, Drosophila ananassae, a warm adapted tropical species, has invaded low to mid altitude localities in the western Himalayas. Due to its cold sensitivity, this species had never been recorded from higher latitudes as well as altitudes in India to the 1960s. A latitudinal cline in this desiccation-sensitive species corresponds with southern humid tropical localities rather than northern drier subtropical localities. An extension of its cline into lowland to midland montane localities has resulted due to global climatic change as well as local thermal effects through anthropogenic impact. However, D. ananassae populations at species borders are characterized by lower genetic variability for body melanization as well as for desiccation resistance. There is a lack of thermal plastic effects for body melanization, and the observed extended cline might represent evolutionary (genetic) response due to selection pressure imposed by drier habitats. A comparison of fecundity, hatchability and viability at three growth temperatures (17, 20 and 25°C) showed significant reduction in trait values at 17°C in D. ananassae. Thus, its recent range expansion into northern montane localities might involve genetic effects on stress-related traits and plastic effects on life history traits. We suggest that D. ananassae could serve as an indicator species for analyzing range expansion under changing climatic conditions.