Published on July 9, 2021

AHMEDABAD: If the current hot and humid weather is making Amdavadis uneasy, a new research from the Ahmedabad University (AhdUni) pointed that rising temperatures due to climate change may be a life and death matter for the tiny insects that are highly susceptible to heat shocks.

Two recently-published studies claimed that when the fruit flies were exposed to high temperatures and less precipitation, it resulted in a drop in mating and egg production and eventually their population.

Prof Subhash Rajpurohit, principal investigator of the Experimental Ecology and Evolution Lab (EEE Lab) at AhdUni, said that two of their recent studies by the students focused on Drosophila, commonly known as fruit fly, and their response to climate warming.

The studies were carried out at the EEE lab and outdoor experimental station at the AhdUni in specially created mesocosm enclosures.

The results pointed at low egg-laying rates and lower reproduction rates vis-à-vis increase in temperature.

‘Insects cold-blooded, lose water’

Unlike humans, who have a heat-regulation mechanism, insects are ectotherms (varying body temperature with ambient temperature) and lose water quickly due to their large surface area. Thus, even a small increase in temperature could be severe for them – they undergo severe dehydration as water starts escaping through their body surface,” said Prof Rajpurohit. One of the studies took place at Ahmedabad University campus where fruit flies were kept in outdoor units and their fecundity (ability to reproduce in abundance) was observed over 90 days during the Ahmedabad summer.

“With the rise in temperature, we observed that the egglaying rate dropped for the flies. The relative drop in humidity also affected their fecundity as the insects felt the stress,” said Rajpurohit.

The second study, titled ‘No water, no mating: Connecting dots from behaviour to pathways,’ took the research further. Teams tested flies on reproductive parameters at varying body water levels.

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