In Drosophila, both the phenotypic and evolutionary effect of temperature on adult size involves alterations to larval resource processing and affects other life-history traits, that is, development time but most notably, larval survival. Therefore, thermal evolution of adult body size might not be independent of simultaneous adaptation of larval traits to resource availability. Using experimental evolution lines adapted to high and low temperatures at different levels of food, we show that selection pressures interact in shaping larval resource processing. Evolution on poor food invariably leads to lower resource acquisition suggesting a cost to feeding behavior. However, following low temperature selection, lower resource acquisition led to a higher adult body size, probably by more efficient allocation to growth. In contrast, following high temperature selection, low resource acquisition benefited larval survival, possibly by reducing feeding-associated costs. We show that evolved differences to larval resource processing provide a possible proximate mechanism to variation in a suite of correlated life-history traits during adaptation to different climates. The implication for natural populations is that in nature, thermal evolution drives populations to opposite ends of an adult size versus larval survival trade-off by altering resource processing, if resource availability is limited.
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Vol. 57 • No. 8