Skip to main content
No AccessFocused Collection: Intraspecific Variation in Physiology and Behavior: Invited Perspective

Variation in Thermal Performance among Insect Populations*

1Department of Biology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada; 2Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida; 3Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Among-population variation in insect thermal performance is important for understanding patterns and mechanisms of evolution and predicting insect responses to altered climate regimes in future or novel environments. Here we review and discuss several key examples of among-population variation in insect thermal performance, including latitudinal gradients in chill coma recovery time, variation in energy consumption and metabolic biochemistry, rapid changes in thermal biology with range expansion in invasive and introduced species, and potential constraints on variation in thermal performance traits. This review highlights that while there is substantial evidence for among-population variation that is generally correlated with local climate regimes, neither the underlying mechanisms nor the implications for whole-animal fitness in the field are well understood. We also discuss the potential limitations of interpreting evolved variation among populations and argue for a genes-to-environment approach to population-level variation in thermal biology of insects.