Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Thermal acclimation has limited effect on the thermal tolerances of summer-collected Arctic and sub-Arctic wolf spiders

New publication by Susan E.Anthony, Christopher M.Buddle, Toke T. Høye, Nils Hein, Brent J.Sinclair

2021.06.22 | Peter Schmidt Mikkelsen


High-latitude ectotherms contend with large daily and seasonal temperature variation. Summer-collected wolf spiders (Araneae; Lycosidae) from sub-Arctic and Arctic habitats have been previously documented as having low temperature tolerance insufficient for surviving year-round in their habitat. We tested two competing hypotheses: that they would have broad thermal breadth, or that they would use plasticity to extend the range of their thermal performance. We collected Pardosa moesta and P. lapponica from the Yukon Territory, Canada, P. furcifera, P. groenlandica, and P. hyperborea from southern Greenland, and P. hyperborea from sub-Arctic Norway, and acclimated them to warm (12 or 20 °C) or cool (4 °C) conditions under constant light for one week. We measured critical thermal minimum (CTmin) or supercooling point (SCP) as a measure of lower thermal limit, and critical thermal maximum (CTmax) as a measure of upper thermal limit. We found relatively little impact of acclimation on thermal limits, and some counterintuitive responses; for example, warm acclimation decreased the SCP and/or cool acclimation increased the CTmax in several cases. Together, this meant that acclimation did not appear to modify the thermal breadth, which supports our first hypothesis, but allows us to reject the hypothesis that spiders use plasticity to fine-tune their thermal physiology, at least in the summer. We note that we still cannot explain how these spiders withstand the very cold winters, and speculate that there are acclimatisation cues or processes that we were unable to capture in our study.


Arctic Research Centre