- Lindroth, R. L.; K. A. Klein; J. D. C. Hemming and A. M. Feuker
The independent and interactive effects of temperature and dietary nitrogen content on performance of the gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar L.) were examined. In long-term feeding trials, larvae were reared from egg hatch to pupation on low (1.5%) and high (3.7% dry weight) nitrogen diets, under three temperature regimes. Short-term feeding trials with fourth instars and the same treatments were conducted in order to calculate nutritional indices. Higher temperatures did not influence larval survival and marginally increased final pupal weights, but strongly decreased long-term development rates. They also accelerated short-term growth and consumption rates, and tended to improve food processing efficiencies. High concentrations of dietary nitrogen increased survival rates and final pupal weights markedly, but decreased long-term development rates only marginally. A high content of dietary nitrogen also accelerated short-term development and growth rates, reduced consumption rates, and improved food digestibility. Insects responded to low nitrogen-content diets primarily by eating faster, rather than by altering efficiency of nitrogen use. In the short-term feeding trials, thermal regime and dietary nitrogen interacted to influence growth rates, overall food processing efficiencies and nitrogen consumption rates. No interactive effects were observed in long-term studies. This research demonstrates that small changes in thermal regime and ecologically relevant variation in dietary nitrogen content can strongly affect gypsy moth performance. Moreover, various performance parameters are differentially sensitive to the direct and interactive effects of temperature and diet.