Physiological mechanisms of dehydration tolerance contribute to the invasion potential of Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae) relative to its less widely distributed congeners
Format Extent906614 bytes
MetadataShow full item record
Background: The Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae) is a highly invasive species now with an almost cosmopolitan distribution. Two other damaging, polyphagous and closely-related species, the marula fruit fly, Ceratitis cosyra (Walker), and the Natal fly, Ceratitis rosa Karsch, are not established outside of sub-Saharan Africa. In this study, adult water balance traits and nutritional body composition were measured in all three species at different temperatures and levels of relative humidity to determine whether tolerance of water stress may partially explain their distribution. Results: Adult C. capitata exhibited higher desiccation resistance than C. rosa but not C. cosyra. Desiccation resistance of C. capitata was associated with lower rates of water loss under hot and dry conditions, higher dehydration tolerance, and higher lipid reserves that were catabolised during water stress. In comparison with C. capitata, C. cosyra and C. rosa lost water at significantly higher rates under hot, dry conditions, and did not catabolise lipids or other sources of metabolic water during water stress. Conclusions: These results suggest that adult physiological traits permitting higher tolerance of water stress play a role in the success of C. capitata, particularly relative to C. rosa. The distribution of C. cosyra is likely determined by the interaction of temperature with water stress, as well as the availability of suitable hosts for larval development.