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Climate change has complex impacts on flies

In a new study published in Global Change Biology, CTBCC researcher Megan Higgie, with co-authors from the UK and Melbourne, show that climate change has complex effects on fruit flies in an ingenious experiment.
Climate change has complex impacts on flies

(c) André Karwath

In the field, the researchers transferred flies in cages from one elevation to another along mountain slopes in Australia’s Wet Tropic rainforest and measured their reproductive success at the different elevations.

“Mountains are useful for simulating the effects of climate change because they show predictable changes in temperature and humidity with elevation - in general, sites at low elevations are warmer and drier than higher elevation sites." Megan explains.

At the bottom of the mountain the new hotter and drier climate is similar to what the flies would experience under future predicted climate change.

The surprises came when comparing the caged flies to a wild population. The flies in cages increased their reproductive success at lower altitudes, where it was hotter. But for the wild population, the opposite was true - they were less abundant at lower altitudes.

Read the media release here.

Read the paper here.