Pre- and post-oviposition behavioural strategies to protect eggs against extreme winter cold in an insect with maternal care

10.24072/pcjournal.104 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 2 (2022), article no. e21.

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Depositing eggs in an area with adequate temperature is often crucial for mothers and their offspring, as the eggs are immobile and therefore cannot avoid exposure to sub-optimal temperatures. However, the importance of temperature on oviposition site selection is less clear when mothers can avoid these potential adverse effects by both moving their eggs after oviposition and providing other forms of egg care. In this study, we addressed this question in the European earwig, an insect in which mothers care for the eggs during several months in winter, frequently moving them during this period. We set up 60 females from two random natural populations (as this species often exhibits population-specific life-history traits and behaviours) under controlled thermal gradients, and recorded the temperature at which they built their nests, tested whether they moved their eggs after an experimental temperature change, and measured the effects on egg development and hatching rate. Our results demonstrate that females indeed select oviposition sites according to temperature, and can move their eggs to reach warmer temperatures. We also show that these warmer temperatures are necessary to ensure egg hatching. Although this set of behavioural thermoregulations is present in the two tested populations, we found a population-specific modality of expression. These included the range of temperatures explored before oviposition, temperature selected at oviposition and dynamics of egg transport following a temperature change. Overall, our study sheds light on a new post-oviposition strategy in female insects that overwinter with their eggs for coping with temperature changes. More generally, it also reveals that egg care and/or egg transport do not prevent behavioural thermoregulation via oviposition site selection and highlights the diversity of behaviours that insects can adopt to enhance their tolerance to global climate change.

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DOI: 10.24072/pcjournal.104
Tourneur, Jean-Claude 1; Cole, Claire 2; Vickruck, Jess 3; Dupont, Simon 4; Meunier, Joël 4

1 Département des Sciences Biologiques, Université du Québec à Montréal, 141 Avenue du Président-Kennedy, Montréal, Québec, H2X 1Y4, Canada
2 Wilfred Avenue, Fredericton, New Brunswick, E3B 9R9, Canada
3 Fredericton Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 95 innovation Rd, Fredericton, New Brunswick, E3B 4Z7, Canada
4 Institut de Recherche sur la Biologie de l’Insecte (IRBI), Unité mixte de recherche 7261, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Université de Tours, Tours, France
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     title = {Pre- and post-oviposition behavioural strategies to protect eggs against extreme winter cold in an insect with maternal care},
     journal = {Peer Community Journal},
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Tourneur, Jean-Claude; Cole, Claire; Vickruck, Jess; Dupont, Simon; Meunier, Joël. Pre- and post-oviposition behavioural strategies to protect eggs against extreme winter cold in an insect with maternal care. Peer Community Journal, Volume 2 (2022), article  no. e21. doi : 10.24072/pcjournal.104. https://peercommunityjournal.org/articles/10.24072/pcjournal.104/

Peer reviewed and recommended by PCI : 10.24072/pci.zool.100012

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