Critical thermal limits, temperature tolerance and water balance of a sub-Antarctic kelp fly, Paractora dreuxi (Diptera: Helcomyzidae)

C. Jaco Klok, Steven L. Chown

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Paractora dreuxi displays distinct ontogenetic differences in thermal tolerance and water balance. Larvae are moderately freeze tolerant. Mean larval onset of chill coma was -5.1°C, and onset of heat stupor was 35.5°C. Larval supercooling point (SCP) was -3.3°C with 100% recovery, although mortality was high below -4°C. Starvation caused SCP depression in the larvae. Adults were significantly less tolerant, with critical thermal limits of -2.7 and 30.2°C, no survival below the SCP (-9.6°C), and no change in SCP with starvation. Moderate freeze tolerance in the larvae supports the contention that this strategy is common in insects from southern, oceanic islands. Fly larvae survived desiccation in dry air for 30 h, and are thus less desiccation tolerant than most other sub-Antarctic insect larvae. Water loss rates of the adults were significantly lower than those of the larvae. Lipid metabolism did not contribute significantly to water replacement in larvae, which replaced lost body water by drinking fresh water, but not sea water. Kelp fly larvae had excellent haemolymph osmoregulatory abilities. Current climate change has led to increased temperatures and decreased rainfall on Marion Island. These changes are likely to have significant effects on P. dreuxi, and pronounced physiological regulation in larvae suggests that they will be most susceptible to such change. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-109
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate change
  • CT(Max)
  • CT(Min)
  • Freeze tolerance
  • Marion Island
  • Ontogenetic differences
  • Osmoregulation

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