Physiological and life history changes associated with seasonal adaptation in the cactophilic Drosophila mojavensis

Tierney M. Shaible, Luciano M. Matzkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many insects inhabiting temperate climates are faced with changing environmental conditions throughout the year. Depending on the species, these environmental fluctuations can be experienced within a single generation or across multiple generations. Strategies for dealing with these seasonal changes vary across populations. Drosophila mojavensis is a cactophilic Drosophila species endemic to the Sonoran Desert. The Sonoran Desert regularly reaches temperatures of 50°C in the summer months. As individuals of this population are rare to collect in the summer months, we simulated the cycling temperatures experienced by D. mojavensis in the Sonoran Desert from April to July (four generations) in a temperature- and light-controlled chamber, to understand the physiological and life history changes that allow this population to withstand these conditions. In contrast to our hypothesis of a summer aestivation, we found that D. mojavensis continue to reproduce during the summer months, albeit with lower viability, but the adult survivorship of the population is highly reduced during this period. As expected, stress resistance increased during the summer months in both the adult and the larval stages. This study examines several strategies for withstanding the Sonoran Desert summer conditions which may be informative in the study of other desert endemic species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBiology Open
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 15 2022


  • Adaptation
  • Drosophila mojavensis
  • Environmental change
  • Life history
  • Thermal stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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