Temperature is a ubiquitous environmental factor that affects how species distribute and behave. Different species of Drosophila fruit flies have specific responses to changing temperatures according to their physiological tolerance and adaptability. Drosophila flies also possess a temperature sensing system that has become fundamental to understanding the neural basis of temperature processing in ectotherms. We present here a temperature-controlled arena that permits fast and precise temperature changes with temporal and spatial control to explore the response of individual flies to changing temperatures. Individual flies are placed in the arena and exposed to pre-programmed temperature challenges, such as uniform gradual increases in temperature to determine reaction norms or spatially distributed temperatures at the same time to determine preferences. Individuals are automatically tracked, allowing the quantification of speed or location preference. This method can be used to rapidly quantify the response over a large range of temperatures to determine temperature performance curves in Drosophila or other insects of similar size. In addition, it can be used for genetic studies to quantify temperature preferences and reactions of mutants or wild-type flies. This method can help uncover the basis of thermal speciation and adaptation, as well as the neural mechanisms behind temperature processing.
Replication Data for: An automated method to determine the performance of Drosophila in response to temperature changes in space and time