The Cardinal Edge


Climate change has been recognized as a severe threat to biodiversity. In the rapidly growing collection of literature on the consequences of global change, researchers have recently noticed a dramatic decrease in insect populations in a wide range of habitats. Insects are extremely susceptible to climatic change, especially with regard to fluctuations in moisture and temperature. However, insects often exhibit phenotypic plasticity, where organisms will express different phenotypes when presented with a specific environmental stimulus. In developmental plasticity, environmental stimuli at the larval stage can determine adult phenotypes. This review focuses on case studies of developmental plasticity in insects, with temperature and moisture as specific stimuli. This review also discusses the role of developmental plasticity on insect population survival and possible future adaptation in the context of global environmental change.