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Hotter Is Better For Insects

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  • Pat Neuman
    Hotter Is Better For Insects by Staff Writers Seattle WA (SPX) Oct 03, 2006 Organisms have been able to adapt to environments ranging from cold polar oceans to
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 3, 2006
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      Hotter Is Better For Insects

      by Staff Writers
      Seattle WA (SPX) Oct 03, 2006
      Organisms have been able to adapt to environments ranging from cold
      polar oceans to hot thermal vents. However, University of Washington
      researchers have discovered a limit to the powerful forces of
      natural selection, at least when it comes to the adaptation of
      insects to cold temperatures.
      "For thermodynamic reasons, cold temperatures present a challenging
      problem for ectothermic [cold-blooded] organisms because they slow
      biological processes, thus reducing rates of movement, feeding, and
      population growth," explains author M. R. Frazier.

      Many researchers believe that biochemical adaptations can eventually
      compensate for the effects of low body temperatures, but Frazier and
      his colleague's recent thermodynamic model, forthcoming in the
      October issue of The American Naturalist, argues against such
      compensation.

      To address this controversy, the researchers conducted a comparative
      analysis of published data on the thermal dependence of population
      growth rate for 65 insect species. They found that insects adapted
      to cold environments have slower maximum population growth rates
      than those adapted to warm environments, despite their long
      evolutionary history in such environments.

      "At least with respect to insect population growth rates," says
      Frazier, "our data suggest that hotter is better. We see little
      evidence of evolutionary compensation."

      This research suggests that adaptation to warmer or to colder
      temperature inevitably alters the population dynamics of insects, a
      result that has important consequences for agriculture, public
      health, and conservation.

      Related Links
      University of Washington
      Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com

      http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Hotter_Is_Better_For_Insects_999.ht
      ml
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