Larval nutrition, temperature, and geographic divergence of Pieris butterflies Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Augustine, Kate
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Biology
  • For insects and other ectotherms, temperature and nutrient availability are particularly important factors influencing selection because feeding and growth are temperature dependent. The temperature experienced during larval development affects growth and developmental rates and adult body size for many insects, and nutrient availability affects key aspects of insect growth, physiology and life history. Therefore, interactions of temperature with nutrient availability can strongly influence life history outcomes. My second, third, and fourth chapters investigate these interactive effects of temperature and nutrition on short-term physiology and long-term life history traits as well as behavior of the cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae) larvae. Specifically, chapters two and three compare how these factors combine to influence two invasive, geographically divergent North American populations. I used fertilized host plants to examine the effects of nutritional quantity and an artificial diet varying in macronutrient ratio to examine the effects of nutritional quality. The fourth chapter investigates how macronutrient ratio influences acclimation and behavior in this species. When fed host plants, increased fertilization improved larval performance in both populations but the high latitude population showed greater temperature sensitivity. When fed artificial diets, I found greater temperature sensitivity in the low latitude population on poor-quality, low protein diet such that few individuals survived to pupation. These experiments demonstrate that temperature effects are strongly influenced by nutrition and that this interaction differs between divergent populations. Additionally, I found that nutrition can influence behavioral choice of macronutrients in this species. In my fifth chapter, I used whole host plants to compare the effects an invasive and native plant species have on oviposition and larval performance of the native West Virginia white butterfly (Pieris virginiensis). I found that an exposed and unexposed population did not differ in their interactions with the invasive plant, but that there is a strong seasonal component to oviposition preference due to differing phenologies of the host plants.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Kingsolver, Joel
  • Willett, Christopher
  • Mitchell, Charles
  • Burch, Christina
  • Weakley, Alan
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2018

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