Synergistic effect of daily temperature fluctuations and matching light-dark cycle enhances population growth and synchronizes oviposition behavior in a soil arthropod

Maartje Liefting, Jarno Cosijn, Jacintha Ellers

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Some major aspects of insect life, like development time and reproduction, can benefit from fluctuating temperatures rather than a constant temperature regime. The benefit of fluctuating temperature has generally been attributed to the non-linear properties of the relationship of many life history traits with temperature. Daily temperature rise, however, usually coincide with the light phase of the photoperiodic cycle and there could be a benefit in linking daily temperature fluctuations with light and dark phases e.g. to anticipate the change in temperature. Such synergistic effects have primarily been studied in the light of activity patterns and gene expression, but have not yet been shown to extend to population dynamics and aspects of individual fitness like oviposition behavior. We therefore explored possible synergistic effects on life history traits of the springtail Orchesella cincta. We first test the primary effect of ecologically relevant temperature fluctuations of different amplitudes on population growth and total population mass. The slowest population growth was observed in the constant temperature regime treatment and the highest population growth in the regime with high amplitude fluctuations. In a second experiment, population growth and oviposition rhythm were measured under four different regimes; a constant light and temperature regime, thermoperiod only, photoperiod only and thermoperiod and photoperiod aligned as under natural conditions. The regime in which thermoperiod was aligned with photoperiod resulted in a higher population growth than could be realized by either factor alone. Also, significantly fewer eggs were laid in the constant temperature/light regime than in the other three regimes, strongly suggesting that this regime is stressful to O. cincta. Additionally, the fraction of eggs laid at night was highest in the regime with the combined temperature and light cycle. In conclusion, our results show that under these experimental conditions there is a synergistic effect of daily temperature fluctuations in combination with light/dark phases that can considerably influence important life history traits and affect behavior. Such effects are likely to be relevant under natural conditions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)108-114
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


    • Circadian rhythm
    • Egg laying
    • Natural entrainment
    • Orchisella cincta
    • Reaction norm


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