Heat tolerance and acclimation capacity in unrelated subterranean arthropods
Cave‐dwelling ectotherms, which have evolved for millions of years under stable thermal conditions, could be expected to have adjusted their physiological limits to the narrow range of temperatures they experience and to be highly vulnerable to global warming. However, most of the few existing studies on thermal tolerance in subterranean invertebrates highlight that despite the fact that they show lower heattolerance than most surface‐dwelling species, their upper thermal limits are gen ‐erally not adjusted to ambient temperature. The question remains to what extent this pattern is common across subterranean invertebrates. We studied basal heat tolerance and its plasticity in four species of distant arthropod groups (Coleoptera, Diplopoda, and Collembola) with different evolutionary histories but under similar selection pressures, as they have been exposed to the same constant environmen‐tal conditions for a long time. Adults were exposed at different temperatures for 1 week to determine upper lethal temperatures. Then, individuals from previous sub ‐lethal treatments were transferred to a higher temperature to determine acclimation capacity. Upper lethal temperatures of three of the studied species were similar to those reported for other subterranean species (between 20 and 25°C) and widely exceeded the cave temperature (13–14°C). The diplopod species showed the highest long‐term heat tolerance detected so far for a troglobiont (i.e., obligate subterranean) species (median lethal temperature after 7 days exposure: 28°C) and a positive ac ‐climation response. Our results agree with previous studies showing that heat toler‐ance in subterranean species is not determined by environmental conditions. Thus, subterranean species, even those living under similar climatic conditions, might be differently affected by global warming.