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Keywords:

  • long life cycles;
  • overlaying pupae;
  • prolonged dormancy;
  • univoltine

Abstract

Persistence and thriving of univoltine, herbivore insect species of the temperate zone rely on obligate diapause response that ensures winter survival and synchronization with host phenology. We used a stenophagous fruit fly (Rhagoletis cerasi) with obligate pupae diapause to determine genetic and environmental effects on diapause intensity of geographically isolated populations with habitat heterogeneity. Pupae from two Greek and one German populations with various gene flow rates were exposed at five constant chilling temperatures (0–12 °C) for different durations and then incubated at a high temperature until all adults have emerged. Pupae diapause intensity differs among Greek and German populations, suggesting an adaptive response to habitat heterogeneity (mostly differences in phenology patterns of local host cultivars). Moderately warm winter temperatures, such as 8 °C, promote diapause termination in all three populations. Insufficient chilling (short duration or warmer temperatures) regulates the expression of prolonged dormancy. Interestingly, extended chilling (longer than required for terminating diapause) ‘return’ pupae to another (facultative) cycle of dormancy enabling adults to emerge during the next appropriate ‘window of time’; a strategy first time reported for univoltine insects. Consequently, diapause duration of R. cerasi is determined both by i) the adaptive response to local climatic conditions (annual dormancy) and ii) the plastic responses to interannual climatic variability resulting in two types of long life cycles within populations, prolonged and facultative dormancy as response to insufficient chilling and extended exposure to chilling, respectively. Long life cycles are expressed as a part of dormancy bet-hedging strategies of R. cerasi populations.