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Freeze tolerance in larvae of the winter-active Diamesa mendotae Muttkowski (Diptera: Chironomidae): a contrast to adult strategy for survival at low temperatures

Bouchard, R. W., Jr., Carrillo, M. A., Kells, S. A., Ferrington, L. C., Jr.
Hydrobiologia 2006 v.568 no.1 pp. 403-416
Chironomidae, adults, cold tolerance, crystals, diapause, freezing, habitats, immatures, larvae, pupae, supercooling point, temperature
The winter-active Diamesa mendotae Muttkowski (Diptera: Chironomidae) is freeze intolerant in the adult stage with a low mean supercooling point (SCP) of ~−20 °C. However, cold-hardiness strategies for immatures of this species are unknown. In this study, we measured SCP values for D. mendotae larvae, pupae and adults using surface-contact thermometry. In addition, the lower lethal temperature (LLT) was determined for the larval stage. The mean SCPs for larvae (−7.4 °C) and pupae (−9.1 °C) were relatively high compared to adults (−19.7 °C). Our results indicate that the larvae of D. mendotae are freeze tolerant with a LLT₉₉ (−25.4 °C), ~−10 °C lower than their minimum SCP (−15.6 °C). Freeze tolerance in these larvae may be a strategy to provide protection from short-term exposures to ice crystals or to permit diapause within frozen substrates. The change in cold-hardiness strategy from freeze tolerant to freeze intolerant between the larval and adult stages of this species is likely a result of the different habitats occupied by these two life stages.