The Science of Nature

, 105:65 | Cite as

Increased lipid accumulation but not reduced metabolism explains improved starvation tolerance in cold-acclimated arthropod predators

  • Kim JensenEmail author
  • Jakob V. Michaelsen
  • Marie T. Larsen
  • Torsten N. Kristensen
  • Martin Holmstrup
  • Johannes Overgaard
Original Paper


Predatory arthropods are used for biological control in greenhouses, but there is increasing interest to extend their use to the outdoor environment where temperatures are typically lower. Acclimation at low temperature increases the ability of ectotherms to cope with subsequent more extreme cold, but may involve costs or benefits to other performance traits. A recent study in mesostigmatid mites (Gaeolaelaps aculeifer) showed that starvation tolerance was improved following a period of cold exposure. However, the physiological mechanisms that underlie improved starvation tolerance following cold exposure were not investigated. To examine whether cold acclimation would also improve starvation tolerance in an insect, we repeated the starvation study in another arthropod predator, the pirate bug Orius majusculus, as well as in G. aculeifer. Before tests, the two species were acclimated at 10, 15, or 20 °C for 7 (G. aculeifer) or 16 (O. majusculus) days. We then analyzed the effects of thermal exposure on body composition, consumption, and basal metabolic rate in both species. Our results confirmed that exposure to low temperature improves starvation tolerance in these arthropod predators. Body composition analyses revealed that both species had accumulated larger lipid stores during exposure to colder temperature, which at least in part can explain the larger starvation tolerance following cold exposure. In contrast, consumption and basal metabolic rate were not changed by thermal acclimation. Our study indicates that predatory arthropods exposed to cold increase their physiological robustness and ability to endure environmental challenges, including low temperature and low prey availability.


Cold acclimation Gaeolaelaps aculeifer Lipid storage Orius majusculus Starvation tolerance 



We thank Søren Toft and three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.


This study was funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research–Technology and Production Sciences (DFF-4184-00248).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Bioscience, Section for Soil Ecology and EcotoxicologyAarhus UniversitySilkeborgDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Bioscience, Section for ZoophysiologyAarhus UniversityAarhus CDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Section for Biology and Environmental ScienceAalborg UniversityAalborg EDenmark

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