Preservation of reproductive behaviors during modest cooling: Rapid cold-hardening fine-tunes organismal response

Scott M. Shreve, Jonathan D. Kelty, Richard E. Lee

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The primary objectives of this study were to determine (1) whether rapid cold-hardening (RCH) preserves reproductive behaviors during modest cooling, (2) whether increased mating success at a lower temperature comes at the cost of decreased performance at a higher temperature and (3) whether RCH is associated with an elevated metabolic rate. Drosophila melanogaster (Diptera: Drosphilidae) were rapidly cold-hardened by a 2-h exposure to 16°C prior to experiments. A temperature decrease of only 7°C (23°C to 16°C) prevented half (11/22) of the control pairs of D. melanogaster from engaging in any courtship activity. By contrast, most RCH pairs courted (17/20). Additionally, the 7°C transfer prevented mating in every pair of control flies, whereas more than half (11/20) of the RCH pairs mated. There was no evidence of impaired courtship or mating performance when RCH pairs were tested at 23°C. Finally, RCH is apparently not an energy-demanding process because no increase in the metabolic rate was detected during its induction. Overall, these data demonstrate that RCH serves to constantly fine-tune an insect's physiological state to match slight changes in environmental temperature. Furthermore, the RCH response is not restricted to cryoprotection and survival in the cold but also preserves more subtle behaviors, such as courtship, at moderate to high temperatures throughout the year.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1797-1802
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - May 2004


  • Courtship
  • Drosophila
  • Mating performance
  • Metabolism
  • Rapid cold-hardening
  • Reproductive behavior
  • Temperature


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