Extreme adaptive life-cycle in a high arctic aphid, Acyrthosiphon svalbardicum

1 The year-round biology of a high arctic aphid is described for the first time. 2 The life-cycle is shown to be genetically determined, and thus markedly different to temperate species where the observed polymorphism is governed primarily by external environmental cues. 3 The fundatrix, which emerges from the overwintering egg, gives birth directly to sexual morphs, a phenomenon previously undescribed in the Aphidinae. This process is essentially prevented in temperate aphids by an endogenous mechanism, the interval timer. 4 In addition to the sexual morphs, the fundatrix produces a small number of parthenogenetic individuals (viviparae) that give rise to a third generation. This last generation consists exclusively of oviparae and males that would increase the number of overwintering eggs provided there is sufficient thermal budget for them to mature and oviposit before conditions become adverse. 5 The position of particular morphs in the birth sequences of the second and third generations maximize the chances of survival in harsh conditions, whilst enhancing the likelihood that individuals from the third generation will add to the number of overwintering eggs. 6 Guaranteed egg production combined with an in-built flexibility to produce an extra generation in particularly favourable seasons, confer adaptations to the high arctic environment, and ideally suit this aphid to exploit elevated temperatures in an era of climate change.


Publication status:
Authors: Strathdee, A.T., Bale, J.S., Block, W.C., Webb, N.R., Hodkinson, I.D., Coulson, S.J.

On this site: William Block
1 January, 1993
Ecological Entomology / 18
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