Summer diapause intensity influenced by parental and offspring environmental conditions in the pest mite, Halotydeus destructor.
The regulation of active and dormant stages of arthropods is critical for surviving unfavourable seasonal conditions, and for many species depends on the diapause intensity (DI). There is substantial information on diapause strategies of arthropods under winter conditions; however, most cases of summer diapause are poorly understood despite its importance in most geographic regions of the world. Here we show how complex interactions with the environment drive DI involving multiple summer diapause forms of the mite Halotydeus destructor. This invasive pest in Australia is only active in cooler months but enters diapause at the egg stage which can survive hot and dry summer conditions. Recent research points to two forms of diapause egg, a typical form with a thick chorion and a cryptic form without this chorion which is morphologically similar to non-diapause eggs. Compared with typical diapause eggs which are produced in late spring, cryptic diapause eggs could be produced together with non-diapause eggs earlier in the season with relatively cooler temperatures and shorter daylength, reflecting an advanced bet-hedging strategy. Fitness trade-offs in this strategy are investigated in this study as variability of DI of the typical and cryptic diapause forms under different environmental factors for incubating diapause eggs (temperature) and rearing parental mites (different daylength, temperature and soil moisture). With the exception of daylength, all factors impacted hatchability of diapause eggs. Higher mortality of cryptic diapause eggs indicated relatively shallower DI than typical diapause eggs, likely reflecting a fitness penalty of this bet-hedging strategy under some conditions. Hatchability of cryptic diapause eggs revealed thermal and moisture stresses have opposite and complementary effects between parental and filial generations. Although DI of filial eggs decreased in hot and dry summer conditions, parental mites reared in hotter and drier conditions increased the DI of offspring. A bet-hedging strategy involving cryptic diapause might be replaced by typical diapause under consistently stressful conditions because of higher survival, regardless of additional production costs that might be required. These findings highlight a complex set of plastic responses to summer conditions in H. destructor that undoubtedly contribute to the success of this invasive pest under a range of environments.