Metabolic cold adaptation contributes little to the interspecific variation in metabolic rates of 65 species of Drosophilidae

Branwen Messamah, Vanessa Kellermann, Hans Malte, Volker Loeschcke, Johannes Overgaard

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Metabolic cold adaptation (MCA) is a controversial hypothesis suggesting that cold adapted species display an elevated metabolic rate (MR) compared to their warm climate relatives. Here we test for the presence of MCA in 65 species of drosophilid flies reared under common garden conditions. MR was measured at both 10 and 20 °C for both sexes and data were analyzed in relation to the natural thermal environment of these species. We found considerable interspecific variation in MR ranging from 1.34 to 8.99 µW mg−1 at 10 °C. As predicted by Bergmann's rule body mass of fly species correlated negatively with annual mean temperature (AMT), such that larger species were found in colder environments. Because larger flies have a higher total MR we found MR to vary with AMT, however, after inclusion of mass as a co-variate we found no significant effect of AMT. Furthermore, we did not find that thermal sensitivity of MR (Q10) varied with AMT. Based on this broad collection of species we therefore conclude that there is no adaptive pattern of metabolic cold adaptation within drosophilid species ranging from sub-arctic to tropical environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-316
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • Bergmann's rule
  • Cold tolerance
  • Fruit fly
  • Geographic distribution
  • Metabolism
  • Respirometry
  • Standard metabolic rate

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