Organisms with annual life cycles are exposed to life stage specific thermal environments across seasons. Seasonal variation in thermal environments can vary across years and among sites. We investigated how organisms with annual life cycles respond to predictable seasonal changes in temperature and unpredictable thermal variation between habitats and years throughout their lives. Field surveys and historical records reveal that the spatially and temporally heterogeneous thermal environments inhabited by the annual mayfly Ephemerella maculata (Ephemerellidae) shift the date for transition to the next, life stage, so that the thermal phenotype of each life stage matches the thermal environment of the specific habitat and year. Laboratory studies of three distinct life stages of this mayfly reveal that life stage transitions are temperature dependent, facilitating timing shifts that are synchronized with the current season’s temperatures. Each life stage exhibited specific thermal sensitivity and performance phenotypes that matched the ambient temperature typically experienced during that life stage. Our study across the whole life cycle reveals mechanisms that allow organisms to achieve lifetime eurythermy in a dynamic seasonal environment, despite having narrower thermal ranges for growth and development in each life stage.
Uno, H. and Stillman, J.H. (2020): Lifetime eurythermy by seasonally matched thermal performance of developmental stages in an annual aquatic insect. Oecologia 192: 647–656. DOI: 10.1007/s00442-020-04605-z
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.