Geographic variation and plasticity in climate stress resistance among southern African populations of Ceratitis capitate (Weidemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae)
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Traits of thermal sensitivity or performance are typically the focus of species distribution modelling. Among-population trait variation, trait plasticity, population connectedness and the possible climatic covariation thereof are seldom accounted for. Here, we examine multiple climate stress resistance traits, and the plasticity thereof, for a globally invasive agricultural pest insect, the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae). We also accounted for body size and population genetic connectivity among distinct populations from diverse bioclimatic regions across southern Africa. Desiccation resistance, starvation resistance, and critical thermal minimum (CTmin) and maximum (CTmax) of C. capitata varied between populations. For thermal tolerance traits, patterns of flexibility in response to thermal acclimation were suggestive of beneficial acclimation, but this was not the case for desiccation or starvation resistance. Population differences in measured traits were larger than those associated with acclimation, even though gene flow was high. Desiccation resistance was weakly but positively affected by growing degree-days. There was also a weak positive relationship between CTmin and temperature seasonality, but CTmax was weakly but negatively affected by the same bioclimatic variable. Our results suggest that the invasive potential of C. capitata may be supported by adaptation of tolerance traits to local bioclimatic conditions.