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Grantee Research Project Results

Grantee Research Project Results

Interactive Effects of Temperature and Oxygen on Insect Development, Fitness, and Flight Ability and the Potential Consequences of Global Climate Change Along Altitudinal Gradients

EPA Grant Number: FP916347
Title: Interactive Effects of Temperature and Oxygen on Insect Development, Fitness, and Flight Ability and the Potential Consequences of Global Climate Change Along Altitudinal Gradients
Investigators: Frazier, Melanie R.
Institution: University of Washington
EPA Project Officer: Jones, Brandon
Project Period: January 1, 2004 through December 31, 2006
Project Amount: $108,183
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2004)
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Biology/Life Sciences , Fellowship - Entomology



The overall goal of this research is to help elucidate the physiological and evolutionary processes that impact insects living along altitudinal gradients. The specific objectives are to determine: (1) how temperature and oxygen directly and interactively affect development, fitness, and flight ability; (2) how “beneficial acclimation” and “local adaptation” may contribute to a species’ ability to cope with high altitudes; and (3) how the antagonistic relationship between local natural selection and gene flow impact a species’ ability to persist along an environmental gradient. This research will promote a better understanding of how air density and temperature interactively affect insect locomotion and fitness. This information could facilitate the development of more accurate models to predict the impacts of global climate change, especially on high-altitude populations. In addition, this basic research ultimately may be used to help develop improved protocols for managing the genetic diversity of threatened populations.


The fruitfly, Drosophila pseudoobscura, will be collected at multiple sites along an altitudinal transect (0 to 3,000 m) in the Sierra Nevada of California. After collecting and identifying flies, I will assay the direct and interactive effects of temperature and oxygen on development, fitness, and flight ability. This will provide an understanding of the physiological pressures of high-altitude conditions at several life stages of these insects. Second, the responses of the high- and low-altitude populations to the temperature and oxygen treatments will be compared to determine the relative contributions of adaptive and acclimatory responses to altitudinal conditions. Finally, QTL techniques will be used to see whether genes associated with enhanced high-altitude performance (e.g., better flight performance in cold and thin air, larger body size, greater wing area,) are primarily located within chromosomal inversions that characterize the genome of D. pseudoobscura.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, insect flight, global climate change, oxygen, flight performance, physiology, gene flow, adaptation, high altitude,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Environmental Chemistry, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Atmosphere, environmental monitoring, adaptive technologies, global change, oxygen, insect development, green house gas concentrations, greenhouse gases, ecosystem impacts, global warming, air quality, climate variability

Relevant Websites:

2004 STAR Graduate Fellowship Conference Poster (PDF, 1p., 111KB, about PDF)

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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