• Open Access

Clinal patterns of desiccation and starvation resistance in ancestral and invading populations of Drosophila subobscura


George W. Gilchrist, Department of Biology, Box 8795, The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795, USA.
Tel.: (757) 221-7751; fax: (757) 221-6483;
e-mail: gwgilc@wm.edu


As invading species expand, they eventually encounter physical and biotic stressors that limit their spread. We examine latitudinal and climatic variation in physiological tolerance in one native and two invading populations of Drosophila subobscura. These flies are native to the Palearctic region, but invaded both South and North America around 1980 and spread rapidly across 15° of latitude on each continent. Invading flies rapidly evolved latitudinal clines in chromosome inversion frequencies and in wing size that parallel those of native populations in the Old World. Here we investigate whether flies on all three continents have evolved parallel clines in desiccation and starvation tolerance, such that flies in low-latitude regions (hot, dry) might have increased stress resistance. Starvation tolerance does not vary with latitude or climate on any continent. In contrast, desiccation tolerance varies clinally with latitude on all three continents, although not in parallel. In North American and Europe, desiccation tolerance is inversely related to latitude, as expected. But in South America, desiccation tolerance increases with latitude and is greatest in relatively cool and wet areas. Differences among continents in latitudinal patterns of interspecific-competition potentially influence clinal selection for physiological resistance, but no simple pattern is evident on these continents.