Climate change will result in warmer temperatures and an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events. Given that higher temperatures increase the reproductive rate of temperate zone insects, insect population growth rates are predicted to increase in the temperate zone in response to climate. This consensus, however, rests on the assumption that food is freely available. However, under conditions of limited food, the reproductive output of the Texan cricket Gryllus texensis (Cade and Otte) was highest at its current normal average temperature and declined with increasing temperature. Moreover, low food availability decreased survival during a simulated heat wave. Therefore, the effects of climate change on this species, and possibly on many others, are likely to hinge on food availability. Extrapolation from our data suggests that G. texensis will show larger yearly fluctuations in population size as climate change continues, and this will also have ecological repercussions. Only those temperate zone insects with a ready supply of food (e.g., agricultural pests) are likely to experience the predicted increase in population growth in response to climate change; food-limited species are likely to experience a population decline.
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Vol. 41 • No. 6