High temperatures threaten the survival of insects, even if they live in the north

The higher temperatures caused by climate change are difficult for insects to tolerate. This threatens them with overheating. Even in the northern regions of the planet, rising temperatures are strongly influencing insect breeding ability, new research suggests.

Insects cannot regulate their own body temperature, which is strongly influenced by environmental indicators. In a new study, scientists studied two species of dragonflies in Sweden. The goal is to understand their ability to adapt to climate change.

Scientists have conducted field research in southern Sweden using technology that can measure an object’s body temperature in natural conditions. This information was then linked to survival and reproductive rates of dragonflies in their natural populations.

The results of the study show that the survival rate of the studied species remains high at relatively low temperatures (15 – 20°C). At the same time, reproductive capacity increased at temperatures between 20°C and 30°C.

“So there is a temperature-dependent conflict between survival on the one hand and fertility on the other,” explains Erik Svensson, professor of biology at Lund University who led the study.

The results of the experiment also showed that dragonflies are practically unable to cope with heat stress. Insects are cold-blooded invertebrates and rely on external heat sources to raise their body temperature.

“Our results show that cold-blooded animals can suffer from overheating, even if they live far in the northern hemisphere, and that their ability to protect the body from rising ambient temperatures is limited. The results also challenge the popular theory of phenotypic plasticity in animals that can help them survive in the harsh conditions of a changing environment, such as during global warming, ”the study’s author concludes.

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