Polar Biology

, Volume 11, Issue 8, pp 607–613 | Cite as

Survival of sub-zero temperatures by two South Georgian beetles (Coleoptera, Perimylopidae)

  • Roger Worland
  • William Block
  • Peter Rothery


The ability of adults and larvae of two species of perimylopid beetles (Hydromedion sparsutum, Perimylops antarcticus) to survive sub-zero temperatures was studied at Husvik, South Georgia in summer during October–December 1990. Experiments determined their survival at constant sub-zero temperatures, their lower lethal temperatures and individual supercooling points. The effects of cooling rates (0.015°, 0.5° and 2.0°C min−1) and starvation on survival were also assessed. Mean supercooling points of field-collected individuals of both species were in the range -3.0° to -5.4°C with Perimylops having a deeper capacity (ca. 1.5°C) for supercooling relative to Hydromedion. The former species also survived freezing temperatures significantly better than the latter and its mean lower lethal temperature was 2.5°C lower. At a constant temperature of -8.5°C, the median survival times for Perimylops adults and larvae were 19 and 26 h respectively, whilst both stages of Hydromedion died within 3 h. The three cooling rates resulted in significantly different median survival temperatures for adult Hydromedion with 0.5°C min−1 producing maximum survival. Prior starvation did not have a significant influence on the survival of either species at sub-zero temperatures although both adults survived less well. The results support field observations on the habitats and distribution of these insects, and suggest differing degrees of freezing tolerance.


Cool Rate Survival Time Median Survival Significant Influence Constant Temperature 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roger Worland
    • 1
  • William Block
    • 1
  • Peter Rothery
    • 1
  1. 1.British Antarctic SurveyNatural Environment Research CouncilCambridgeUK

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