Global warming to kill fruit flies – and this is a bad thing?

English: A female Mediterranean fruit-fly (Cer...

A female Mediterranean fruit-fly (Ceratitis capitata). Français : Une mouche à fruit méditerranéenne (Ceratitis capitata). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Evolutionary straitjacket means flies can’t take the heat

Many species of fruit fly lack the ability to adapt effectively to predicted increases in global temperatures and may face extinction in the near future, according to new research.

In a study published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from Monash University, The University of Melbourne and Danish collaborators showed that many species of fruit fly appear to be constrained within an evolutionary straitjacket and can’t readily adapt to climate change-related temperature increases.

Dr Vanessa Kellermann from Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences said current projections predict a 3ºC increase in mean annual temperature in the next century and even greater increases in extremes.

“Given our findings, these expected increases pose a major threat to biodiversity in the near future. Particularly as Drosophila or fruit fly findings are often more broadly applicable,” Dr Kellermann said.

By examining nearly 100 species of fruit fly from around the world, the researchers showed that species had evolved to the temperature extremes and humidity of their environments. However, they had very little flexibility in being able to change their levels of heat resistance and seem unable to adapt to increased temperatures in the future.

High heat resistance is a feature of only some branches of the phylogeny – the tree that shows how species are related through evolution – of Drosophila. Other branches had very limited ability to change their levels of heat resistance; even when flies native to cooler areas grew up in a warm environment, their heat tolerance was not significantly altered.

“The problem is that only a handful of species have adapted to hot environments while most species have not and it seems very difficult to switch once you are stuck on a phylogenetic branch,” Dr Kellermann said.

The researchers looked at species’ prospects for dealing with projected temperature increases in the near future.

“If a species can only withstand temperatures of 36ºC and the maximum temperature of the environment is already 36ºC, an increase of even 1ºC would already put this species over the edge towards extinction,” Dr Kellermann said.

Using this method, the researchers identified at-risk species and found that most tropical and mid-latitude species fell into this category.

“Without rapid adaptation, which now seems very unlikely, a lot of species may fall over under even a mild increase in temperature,” Dr Kellermann said.

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I’m sure the people who have battled the Mediterranean Fruit Fly will be happy to hear this. It seems though this is just old recycled news used to paint GW in a scary light, here’s a paper from 1986:

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Developmental temperature and life span in Drosophila melanogaster. I. Constant developmental temperature: evidence for physiological adaptation in a wide temperature range.

Abstract

The concept of an inverse relationship between life span of adult Drosophila and their developmental temperature is probably the result of an unwarranted generalization. Rather, in a wild-type laboratory strain the present study revealed a plateau phase in this relationship between 16 and 29 degrees C in which life span of both male and female flies was roughly independent of developmental temperature. Below and above this range, life span dropped drastically, development being impossible below 12 and above 32.5 degrees C. Simultaneous study of growth characteristics showed that the plateau phase corresponded to a ‘physiological’ range of developmental temperature, development being apparently disturbed outside that range. Within that physiological range, the growth rate of the flies varied varied 2-fold, while life span remained constant corroborating our previous conclusion that growth rate per se does not determine life span.

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I find it humorous that Nature so poorly equipped flies over the billions of years of existence that they’ll just “fall over” once the temperature gets to 37C. So much for evolution and survival of the fittest. Contrast this to claims that GW will cause mosquitoes and others pests to flourish.

I wonder where David Suzuki stands on this news?

 

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Paul Westhaver

How about MOSQUITOES. Any hope in genocide of them?

TANSTAAFL

Think of it as evolution in action.

MattN

If global warming would kill all mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, yellow jackets and hornets, I’d go buy 2 Ford Excursions today….

Chris B

Is Fruit Fly Doctor David Suzuki involved in this?

Glacierman

Yea, because fruit grows so much better in the cold.

Matt

We are discussing the extinction of fruit flies. Can someone explain why this would be a bad thing?

thelastdemocrat

Sure, I believe this. Remember the 1970s movie Savage Bees – where they lure the marauding killer bees into the Superdome, then drop the temp with the Superdome’s exceptional A/C?
Those bees were dropping left and right.

“However, they had very little flexibility in being able to change their levels of heat resistance and seem unable to adapt to increased temperatures in the future.”
And what of evolution?
“The researchers looked at species’ prospects for dealing with projected temperature increases in the near future.”
Ah, the near future, I see.
“”This is actually decoding the key DNA in the evolution of aging, development and fertility,” said ecology & evolutionary biology professor Michael Rose, whose laboratory began breeding the “super flies” used in the current study in 1991 — or 600 generations ago. He joked that they “live fast and die young. Lead author and doctoral student Molly Burke compared the super flies to a control group on a genome-wide basis, the first time such a study of a sexually reproducing species has been done. The work married DNA “soup” gathered from the adapted flies with cheap, efficient technology that uses cutting-edge informatics tools to analyze the DNA of entire organisms. Burke found evidence of evolution in more than 500 genes that could be linked to a variety of traits, including size, sexual maturation and life span, indicating a gradual, widespread network of selective adaptation.”
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100916162537.htm
How many generations, I wonder, does the ‘near future’ equate to?

steveta_uk

It’s a shame they can’t fly – then they could migrate to a cooler climate.
Just a minute …..

Cam_S

Oh no! Global warming killing fruit flies?
Dr. Suzuki will be so upset…

From my unfortunate experience, the hotter it gets, the more flies you get and it is much harder to catch them.
Again, it seems these people never left the lab to check how things are in the real world.
By the way, I am talking VERY high temps – above the 40C…

So fruit flies won’t adapt?
How it works: As temperatures rise, some percentage of fruit flies will exhibit greater tolerance for the higher temps, thus they will be the successful reproducers while the less adaptable flies will die off. The new generation will exhibit greater tolerance for higher temps, and so will their offspring.
Funny how that works.

Poor old Economos and Lints seem to have produced a more comprehensive paper in that they explore lower temperature effects as well. Shame for them that they did it before all the extra cash became available for any paper that mentions “temperature.”

RHS

Paul – I wish, mosquitoes have been found at nearly every temperature with standing non frozen water.
Adaptable little buggers…

Franksw

There was a scientist (whose name I forget) on BBC Radio 4 recently who described his experiments to measure the environmental heat received by various insects using such methods as painting snails with the dye used in jeans that fades with heat. For fruit flies the colour of their eyes was used to measure the heat of the environment. He found that within the limits of a single field the variation experienced between different insects was between 20C to 30C centigrade.
I think that covers the maximum global warming range ever promised by the alarmists so those pesky flies will still be with us.

Dead Fruit flys are the best kind of fruit fly. They managed to get in my apartment and i could never get rid of them even with targeted extermination campaigns.

Louis

It’s a real conundrum. If we experience global warming, several species of fruit flies may go extinct. But if we don’t, several species of climate scientists may go extinct. Is there no way we can choose both? /sarc

lurker, passing through laughing.

Another BS study.
Fruitflies are remarkably adaptable across a broad range of climates.
This is like the faux study claiming to show how pythons were going to move to Kansas, or the one pretending that AGW would cause more kidney stones.

Steve C

“By examining nearly 100 species of fruit fly from around the world, the researchers showed that species had evolved to the temperature extremes and humidity of their environments.”
And now they’ve lost that adaptability, doubtless due to the actions of evil humanity. (using them as laboratory specimens, perhaps?) Silly Melanogaster, inhabiting a planet with such creatures on it. They deserve to die!
Seriously, did they try breeding one of those ‘high-temperature” species, increasing the temperature by, say, 0.3° over 10 years, to try to duplicate the wild “predictions” of those “current projections”? I doubt the little blighters would have noticed it over all those generations.

son of mulder

So one atypical hot daytime peak can wipe them all out. I think not. If I were a fruit fly I’d be born when the temperature was slightly cooler, slightly earlier in the year than in the good old non-catastrophic days. But then I’m not a fruit fly.

Paolo

The Warm List

Terry

We could do with fewer of these pests:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_fruit_fly

D Boehm

“…in this relationship between 16 and 29 degrees C in which life span of both male and female flies was roughly independent of developmental temperature. Below and above this range, life span dropped drastically, development being impossible below 12 and above 32.5 degrees C.”
May I point out that total ‘global warming’ over the past 150 years has amounted to only about 0.8ºC? How will that exterminate fruit flies??
This is just another item we can add to the list:

Tamara

Fruit flies already have the problem solved – just move in to climate controlled human habitats.

El Bozo

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

Gene

Even if this is completely true, and even if the worst global warmist forecast is true. Why wouldn’t these flies just go north and enjoy future Canadian fruit? They CAN fly.

Pieter Folkens

Wasn’t it the study of flies that recorded the climate change and demise of the Norse in Greenland at the end of the MWP? Each successive decade of cooling had different fly carcasses show up in the dirt and dung layers. So what if a particular species of fruit fly goes extinct. It would be replaced with another form adapted to the different conditions.

Mad dogs and fruit flies go out in the mid-day sun…..
Here’s an idea – akin to the (now obsolete) use of canaries in coal mines. Pop a few locally-adapted Drosophila in a small cage. Carry them with you at all times. When the temperature increase reaches the critical 2°C “guardrail” they’ll pop their clogs and alert you to the imminent danger of heat-related death. You’ll avoid becoming one kind of statistic and can escape to become one of the billions of climate refugees. If you’re a sceptic just carry on with your plan to catch a bit of sun on a Florida beach (Florida will be all beach within a couple of decades, or by 2025 or 2100 or something).

Jimbo

I call BS on this one. If it warms then those fruits can grower further north and the fruit flies move north with them. Survival!!! Warmist keep telling us that plants are moving uphill and animals are moving ranges northwards due to global warming yet they can come out with this utter trash. Have they not heard of evolution?????
What did the Minoan Warm Period do to Drosophila? Some may die and other evolve in a warmer world. I vaguely recall that 99 percent of species that once lived on Earth are extinct. Blame man.
Where will this all end for goodness sake? Next there will be a study on global warming effects of regular flies, dung beetles, cockroaches, ants etc. This is never ending nonsense from these money grabbing alleged researchers.

Rapid evolution of male-biased gene expression in Drosophila”
http://www.pnas.org/content/100/17/9894.short
Rapid laboratory evolution of adult life-history traits in Drosophila melanogaster in response to temperature”
http://md1.csa.com/partners/viewrecord.php?requester=gs&collection=ENV&recid=3853113&q=&uid=791805140&setcookie=yes
Rapid evolution of wing size clines in Drosophila subobscura”
http://www.springerlink.com/content/grt82972381878u2/

sophocles

What a surprise: Drosophila et al seem to be such fragile little bugs, if that paper is to be believed. Queensland (Australia) must have some really really tough fruit flies, then. They can survive temps which can exceed 40 C on warm (for Queensland) summer days.
When they arrive in NZ, (temps to low 30s C for HOT summer days), as they regularly do, they multiply like the pests they are, and scare the Agriculture Dept Pest Control Officers into furious, if not feverish, action to eliminate them. I’m sure our border protection agents will be relieved to know that outside their evolutionary temperature range, fruit flies cannot survive for long.
Sadly, experience and those conclusions do not coincide … pests are hardy—that’s how they become pests. Most orchardists regard fruit flies as pests and I know New Zealand’s agriculture border control does. Auckland City has twice in the last 20 years been aerially —and expensively—sprayed for weeks at a time with insecticide to control/eliminate imported insect pests.

JJ

Dr Vanessa Kellermann from Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences said current projections predict a 3ºC increase in mean annual temperature in the next century and even greater increases in extremes.
a) Projections predict? Clearly, she has not got the RealClimateScience(TM) memo regarding the fact that climate model predictions are projections, not predictions.
b) The 3ºC increase in mean annual temperature predicted by the projections that are not predictions is for the whole global. The projdictions are for higher temp increases than the average at the poles, whereas the predjections for the tropics are for much lower than the average temp increase.
c) The projection/prediction/whateverthehellyouwannacallit of 3ºC average temp rise for the global this century ain’t happening. We are 12 years into this century, and temps are dead flat. Hitting 3ºC by 2100 would require an average temp increase of 0.35ºC per decade for the next nine decades. That’s more than twice the rate it achieved over the period 1980-2000, back when it was actually warming.
d) The reasons why we like fruit flies for genetic research – simple genome, easy to mutate, very short generational period – renders them quite adaptable.
Whether we like it or not, fruit flies will be with us even if the earth sees 3ºC average temp increase in this century. And it won’t.

Anytime one cannot come up with a cogent reason for saving a species, they fall back on the need for “biodiversity,” a mostly meaningless term. Question: which Earth has more biodiversity, one with a single polar bear species or one with two species of fruit flies?

richardscourtney

Dr Vanessa Kellermann:
I write to point you to a publication which seems to have been overlooked in the literature survey which I assume you conducted as part of your study. It seems of especial importance in that the work I am bringing to your attention provides a direct contradiction of the findings you report.
It is
Darwin C ‘On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life’ 1859
The book received some acclaim and several publications. its sixth edition contained some revisions and was published under the shorter title of ‘The Origin Of Species’ in 1872. Its contents have been widely accepted in the scientific community.
Your paper completely refutes the work I cite and, therefore, if your findings are confirmed then your work will be truly groundbreaking. Hence, I think it would be to your advantage to consider the findings reported by Darwin and the several subsequent developments from his findings.
Richard

Doug Huffman

Anthony Watts’ colleague Weatherman Edward Lorentz had it wrong with his butterfly wing theory of chaotic sensitivity to initial conditions, it was really a fruit fly’s wing. Without sufficient diversity to accommodate fruit flies there is no chaos. Oh noes.

pat

Believe me. What fruit flies need is heat and moisture. This incredibly destructive pest is susceptible to cold, but will do fine with all the modeled temperatures. So well, in fact, that if GW does sustain itself for any length of time we will wish heat actually killed this pest.

EternalOptimist

There is a renewable angle to this startling news
Fruit flies might not like the heat, but
Time flies like the wind
bad joke

gringojay

Adage holds up irregardless: “Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like bananas.”

The hottest I have ever known, backpacking across a stretch of Iran’s Dasht-e-Lut desert where hardly a thornbush grows, I had to rig up a sunshade at midday and try to take a snooze. Plagued by hundreds of flies, it was a miserable time. These so-called fly experts are talking rubbish.

MarkW

Two points
First off, any species that is that limited in their ability to adapt to changes are evolutionary dead ends and won’t be with us long in any case.
Secondly, most of these species already exist in ranges. Changes in temperature just means that the range moves geographically.
From reading these kind of reports, one would get the idea that each of these species lives in only one tiny spot on the globe, and has no abilty to modify their range in face of changing conditions.

wayne

Oh come on !!! They have no problem following the banana’s from Central America to my kitchen regularly with no bad side-effects! (and unfortunately, later on, to my computer… most annoying watching those buggers flying back and forth between you and the monitor)
What those fruit flies need to worry about is “wayne’s fruit fly method” just discovered this last summer. Here’s a bit of applied science for you, gas diffusion, sensory responses, surface tension and air turbulence. Take a shallow clear container and fill ¼ inch of water, few drops of dishwashing liquid, some orange or other juice or Kool-Aid, anything sweet, and a teaspoon of vinegar… mix well. Oh, you also will also need a straw. Placed this by your fruit fly invaded computer as you work and every time one lands on the edge of the container… they are cautious little buggers…. take the straw and with a single big poof down the straw it is now in the water. Without surface tension it’s a goner. Thought that was just one fruit fly? So did I but I find you’ll get about ten in the first thirty minutes. So, within an hour or so your whole house will be fruit-fly-free instead of putting up with them for a few days. Even works great for our dear environmentalist friends… no insecticides necessary and now you have fruit minus the fruit flies!

rml

Anthony:
No wonder CA Gov. Jerry “Medfly” Brown is touting CAGW! 🙂

Why do fruit flies have a problem with the “average temperature”. I would think it was max temperature and that isn’t going up much.

Kasuha

If they found Tephritidae cannot evolve to withstand certain limit temperatures, they proved just that. I believe it’s perfectly correct to say that each species has certain temperature limit over which it cannot evolve. I don’t think most organisms are able to live in temperatures over 70°C or to be able to evolve to withstand that, just because too many proteins get destroyed at that temperature. Of course the real limit may differ for each species and may require extensive research to figure out such temperature. Fruit flies are sure a good start.
The only question remaining is, how much is that finding relevant in real world. There are other ways how to deal with such environment, including migration or behavior changes such as seeking for shelter when extremes appear. You can prepare french fries on the sand in Sahara desert on a sunny day, yet quite a lot of species live there without getting cooked. And species that can’t stand the heat concentrate in parts which are not that hot even though at times of “green sahara” they sure occupied much larger areas.
I don’t have problem with the paper itself. I just have problem with its interpretations.

Jerker Andersson

Does that mean that if i increase the heat indoors by 3C all the fruit flies will go away? =)

Jimbo

Dr Vanessa Kellermann from Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences said current projections predict a 3ºC increase in mean annual temperature in the next century and even greater increases in extremes.

The only way one is to find out what will happen to the flies is to run the experiment over the “next century” and see whether we see evolution / adaptation / movement northwards come into play.

Brad S

OMG. I must be crazy because I don’t get it. So fruit flies only live in totally stable climates? It never gets about 36? Somewhere in Brazil it’s 36 degrees, a heat wave hits and it goes to 39 for a week, do all the fruit flies die? Is it a minute at 37, a month or a year. If it hits 40 do they die in a milisecond.
Who comes up with this crap?

a jones

Oddly enough we have had a plague of them this year, something to do with a coolish wet summer followed by a month of fine hot weather I imagine. We have not had such a beautiful Indian summer for many years.
They are gone now, temperatures have fallen back but I do not remember seeing such an outbreak in around forty years: sometimes in the early 1970’s I fancy but forget exactly which year.
Kindest Regards

stephen richards

MattN says:
September 18, 2012 at 10:28 am
If global warming would kill all mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, yellow jackets and hornets, I’d go buy 2 Ford Excursions today….
OR 4 HUMMERS, yeh

stephen richards

take the straw and with a single big poof down the straw
Careful, I think you mean puff. Poof has other conotations in english and england.

Experimental biologists everywhere will be gnashing their teeth, but nobody else will bother!