Heat-avoidance behavior associates with thermal sensitivity rather than tolerance in aphid assemblages

Published: 20 March 2023| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/dxr7kywjgn.1


How to predict animals’ heat-avoidance behaviors is critical since behavior stands the first line for animals dealing with frequent heat events under ongoing climate warming. However, the discrepancy between the scarcity of research on heat-avoidance behaviors and the commonness of eco-physiological data for thermal tolerance and for thermal sensitivity such as the temperature-dependent survival time makes it difficult to link physiologically thermal traits to heat-avoidance behavior. Aphids usually suck plant sap on a fixed site on the host plants at moderate temperatures, but they will leave and seek cooler feeding sites under stressful temperatures. Here we take the cereal aphid assemblages comprising different species with various development stages as a model system. We tested the hypotheses that heat tolerance (critical thermal maximum, CTmax) or heat sensitivity (temperature-dependent declining rate of survival time, similarly hereinafter) would associate with the temperature at which aphid activate heat-avoidance behavior. Specifically, we hypothesized the aphids with less heat tolerance or greater heat sensitivity would take a lower heat risk by leaving the host plant earlier. By mimicking the linear increase in ambient temperature during the daytime, we measured the CTmax and the heat-avoidance temperature (HAT, at which aphids leave the host plant to find cooler places) to understand their heat tolerance and heat-avoidance behavior. Then, we tested the survival time of aphids at different temperatures and calculated the slope of survival time declining with temperature to assess their heat sensitivity (HS). Finally, we examined the relationships between CTmax and HAT and between HS and HAT to understand if the heat-avoidance behavior associates with heat tolerance or with heat sensitivity. The results showed that HS and HAT had a strong correlation, with more heat sensitive individuals displayed lower HAT. By contrast, CTmax and HAT had a weak correlation. Our results thus provide evidence that heat sensitivity is a more reliable indicator than thermal tolerance linking with the heat-avoidance behavior in the aphid assemblages. Most existing studies use the indexes related to thermal tolerance to predict warming impacts. Our findings highlight the urgency to incorporate thermal sensitivity when predicting animal responses to climate change.



Climate Change, Thermoregulation in Animals


National Natural Science Foundation of China


National Natural Science Foundation of China