Does local adaptation along a latitudinal cline shape plastic responses to combined thermal and nutritional stress?

Avishikta Chakraborty, Carla M. Sgrò, Christen K. Mirth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Thermal and nutritional stress are commonly experienced by animals. This will become increasingly so with climate change. Whether populations can plastically respond to such changes will determine their survival. Plasticity can vary among populations depending on the extent of environmental heterogeneity. However, theory conflicts as to whether environmental heterogeneity should increase or decrease plasticity. Using three locally adapted populations of Drosophila melanogaster sampled from a latitudinal gradient, we investigated whether plastic responses to combinations of nutrition and temperature increase or decrease with latitude for four traits: egg-adult viability, egg-adult development time, and two body size traits. Employing nutritional geometry, we reared larvae on 25 diets varying in protein and carbohydrate content at two temperatures: 18 and 25°C. Plasticity varied among traits and across the three populations. Viability was highly canalized in all three populations. The tropical population showed the least plasticity for development time, the sub-tropical showed the highest plasticity for wing area, and the temperate population showed the highest plasticity for femur length. We found no evidence of latitudinal plasticity gradients in either direction. Our data highlight that differences in thermal variation and resource predictability experienced by populations along a latitudinal cline are not sufficient to predict their plasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2073-2087
Number of pages15
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


  • Body size
  • developmental plasticity
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • larval development
  • local adaptation
  • nutritional geometry
  • temperature
  • viability

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