Why have multiple plastic responses? Interactions between color change and heat avoidance behavior in Battus philenor larvae

Matthew E. Nielsen, Daniel R Papaj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Having multiple plastic responses to a change in the environment, such as increased temperature, can be adaptive for two major reasons: synergy (the plastic responses perform better when expressed simultaneously) or complementarity (each plastic response provides a greater net benefit in a different environmental context). We investigated these hypotheses for two forms of temperature-induced plasticity of Battus philenor caterpillars in southern Arizona populations: color change (from black to red at high temperatures) and heat avoidance behavior (move-ment from host to elevated refuges at high host temperatures). Field assays using aluminum models showed that the cooling effect of the red color is greatly reduced in a refuge position relative to that on a host. Field assays with live caterpillars demonstrated that refuge seeking is much more important for survival under hot conditions than coloration; however, in those assays, red coloration reduced the need to seek refuges. Our results support the complementarity hypothesis: refuge seeking facilitates survival during daily temperature peaks, while color change reduces the need to leave the host over longer warm periods. We propose that combinations of rapid but costly short-term behavioral responses and slow but efficient long-term morphological responses may be common when coping with temperature change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)657-666
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Volume189
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

Fingerprint

Battus philenor
avoidance behavior
refuge
plastics
plastic
larva
heat
color
larvae
complementarity
caterpillar
assay
temperature
insect larvae
assays
behavioral response
plasticity
ecosystem services
aluminum
cooling

Keywords

  • Battus philenor
  • Behavior
  • Color
  • Functional integration
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Why have multiple plastic responses? Interactions between color change and heat avoidance behavior in Battus philenor larvae. / Nielsen, Matthew E.; Papaj, Daniel R.

In: American Naturalist, Vol. 189, No. 6, 2017, p. 657-666.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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