We explored the extent to which a phenotypic trait (walking speed) of Drosophila melanogaster is influenced by population, developmental temperature, adult temperature, and age. Our goals were to estimate the importance of these factors and to test the beneficial acclimation hypothesis. We measured speed of flies from two populations (the Congo and France) that developed at different temperatures (18, 25, and 29°C) and were tested at different temperatures (18, 25, and 29°C) and ages (2, 7, 13 days). Not surprisingly, speed increased strongly with test temperature. Speed was generally greatest for flies reared at an intermediate developmental temperature, contrary to the beneficial acclimation hypothesis, which predicts that speed would be greatest when influenced by interactions involving population. For example, speed was greatest for flies from France that developed at a low temperature, but for flies from the Congo that developed at a high temperature. The impact of developmental temperature declined with age. Surprisingly, speed actually increased with age for flies raised and maintained at a low temperature, but decreased with age for flies raised and maintained at an intermediate or at a high temperature. Thus, walking performance is highly dynamic phenotypically, complicating potential attempts to predict responses to selection on performance.
Corresponding Editor: T. Mousseau