Thermal tolerance limits in six weevil species (Coleoptera, Curculionidae) from sub-antarctic Marion Island

Van der Merwe M. ; Chown S.L. ; Smith V.R. (1997)


Supercooling points, lower lethal temperatures, and the effect of short-term exposures to low temperatures were examined during both winter and summer in the adults of six weevil species from three different habitats on Marion Island. Upper lethal limits and the effects of short-term exposure to high temperatures were also examined in summer-acclimatized adult individuals of these species. Bothrometopus elongatus, B. parvulus, B. randi, Ectemnorhinus marioni, and E. similis were freeze tolerant, but had high lower lethal temperatures (-7 to -10°C). Seasonal variation in these parameters was not pronounced. Physical conditions of the habitat appeared to have little effect on cold hardiness parameters because the Ectemnorhinus species occur in very wet habitats, whereas the Bothrometopus species inhabit drier areas. The adults of these weevil species are similar to other high southern latitude insects in that they are freeze tolerant, but with high lower lethal temperatures. In contrast, Palirhoeus eatoni, a supra-littoral species, avoided freezing and had a mean supercooling point of -15.5 ± 0.94°C (SE) in winter and -11.8 ± 0.98°C in summer. Survival of a constant low temperature of-8°C also increased in this species from 6 h in summer to 27 h in winter. It is suggested that this strategy may be a consequence of the osmoregulatory requirements imposed on this species by its supra-littoral habitat. Upper lethal temperatures (31-34°C) corresponded closely with maximum microclimate temperatures in all of the species. This indicates that the pronounced warming, accompanied by the increased insolation that has been recorded at Marion Island, may reduce survival of these species. These effects may be compounded as a consequence of predation by fetal house mice on the weevils.

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