Published May 6, 2020 | Version v1
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Data from: Adaptive thermal plasticity enhances sperm and egg performance in a model insect


Rising and more variable global temperatures pose a challenge for biodiversity, with reproduction and fertility being especially sensitive to heat. Here, we assessed the potential for thermal adaptation in sperm and egg function using Tribolium flour beetles, a warm-temperate-tropical insect model. Following temperature increases through adult development, we found opposing gamete responses, with males producing shorter sperm and females laying larger eggs. Importantly, this gamete phenotypic plasticity was adaptive: thermal translocation experiments showed that both sperm and eggs produced in warmer conditions had superior reproductive performance in warmer environments, and vice versa for cooler production conditions and reproductive environments. In warmer environments, gamete plasticity enabled males to double their reproductive success, and females could increase offspring production by one-third. Our results reveal exciting potential for sensitive but vital traits within reproduction to handle increasing and more variable thermal regimes in the natural environment.


Funding provided by: Natural Environment Research Council
Crossref Funder Registry ID:
Award Number: NE/K013041/1

Funding provided by: Commonwealth Scholarship Commission
Crossref Funder Registry ID:
Award Number: Fellowship to R Vasudeva


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10.7554/eLife.49452 (DOI)