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    Many environmental stressors naturally covary, and the frequency and duration of stressors such as heat waves and droughts are increasing globally with climate change. Multiple stressors may have additive or non-additive effects on fitness-related traits, such as locomotion, reproduction, and somatic growth. Despite its importance to terrestrial animals, water availability is rarely incorporated into multiple-stressor frameworks. Water limitation often occurs concurrently with food limitation (e.g., droughts can trigger famines), and the acquisition of water and food can be linked because water is necessary for digestion and metabolism. Thus, we investigated the independent and interactive effects of water and food limitation on life-history traits using female crickets (Gryllus firmus), which exhibit a wing dimorphism mediating a life-history trade-off between flight and fecundity. Our results indicate that traits vary in their sensitivities to environmental factors and factor-factor interactions. For example, neither environmental factor affected flight musculature, only water limitation affected survival, and food and water availability non-additively (i.e., interactively) influenced body and ovary mass. Water availability had a larger effect on traits than food availability, affected more traits than food availability, and mediated the effects of food availability. Further, life-history strategy influenced the costs of multiple stressors because females investing in flight capacity exhibited greater reductions in body and ovary mass during stress relative to females lacking flight capacity. Therefore, water is important in the multiple-stressor framework, and understanding the dynamics of covarying environmental factors and life history may be critical in the context of climate change characterized by concurrent environmental stressors. © 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


    Sugjit S Padda, Zachary R Stahlschmidt. Evaluating the effects of water and food limitation on the life history of an insect using a multiple-stressor framework. Oecologia. 2022 Feb;198(2):519-530

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    PMID: 35067802

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