Can gypsy moth stand the heat? A reciprocal transplant experiment with an invasive forest pest across its southern range margin
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Temperature provides important physiological constraints that can influence the distribution of an invasive species. Gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar L.) is a generalist defoliator in North America and supraoptimal temperatures (above the optimal for developmental rate) have been implicated in range dynamics at the southern invasion front in West Virginia and Virginia. We sourced egg masses from the Appalachian Mountains (AM), where the gypsy moth range is expanding, from the Coastal Plain (CP), where range retraction is occurring, and from a long-established population in New York (NY) and conducted a reciprocal transplant experiment to compare development and fitness components among these populations at two sites along the southern invasion front. We found evidence of sublethal effects from rearing in the CP, with decreased pupal mass and fewer eggs compared to individuals reared in the AM, but little difference between source populations in developmental traits. The AM and NY populations did experience reductions in egg viability under a southern winter at the CP site compared to control wintering conditions, while the CP egg masses had equivalent survival. This study provides empirical support for negative fitness consequences of supraoptimal temperatures at the southern range edge, consistent with patterns of range retraction and spread in the region, as well as suggesting the potential for local adaptation through variation in egg survival. Our work illustrates that sublethal effects from high temperature can be an important factor determining the distribution of invasive species under current and future climates.
KeywordsLymantria dispar Forest defoliator Common garden experiment Local adaptation Supraoptimal temperatures
Funding for this project was provided by the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant (Grant Number 2014-67012-23539 to KLG), the National Science Foundation (Award Number 1556111 to PCT and DEB-1556767 to DMJ), the University of Richmond School of Arts and Sciences, and an award in Interdisciplinary Research from the Thomas F. and Kate Miller Jeffress Memorial Trust (KLG). We thank the University of Richmond Biology Department for use of research facilities and supplies. Many thanks to Mountain Lake Biological Station (University of Virginia) for the use of supplies and space. Thanks to Laura Blackburn (US Forest Service) for mapping assistance and to Sarah Bailey for rearing assistance. Thanks to Ksenia Onufrieva, Andrea Hickman, and the STS Foundation for technical guidance. Thanks to Chelsea Jahant-Miller for comments on the manuscript. We also thank Kerry Bailey (West Virginia Department of Agriculture), Chris Elder, and Randy Copeland (NCDA & CS Gypsy Moth program) for collecting the egg masses used in these experiments. Gypsy moths were transported and housed under USDA APHIS permit Numbers P526P-14-00377 (DP), P526P-12-01012 (DJ), P526P-15-00488 (KG).
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