Effects of temperature and dietary nitrogen on genetic variation and covariation in gypsy moth larval performance traits
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To assess the plastic and genetic components of variation in responses of gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) 4th instar larvae to temperature and food quality, we applied a split-family four-environment experimental design where full-sibs were reared on two constant temperatures (23°C and 28°C) and two concentrations of dietary nitrogen (1.5 and 3.7% dry weight). A temperature of 28°C and low dietary nitrogen decreased larval weight and prolonged larval developmental time, while viability was not affected. Only a marginally significant interaction between the two environmental factors was found for larval weight. The broad-sense heritability for larval developmental time did not change across environments, and across-environment genetic correlations were close to one. Heritability for larval weight depended on environmental and across-environmental genetic correlations that were not significant. There was no evidence of a trade-off between developmental time and larval weight. The implications of the obtained results for the evolution of phenotypic plasticity in complex environments are discussed.