Insect Low Temperature Biology
The Sinclair Lab at UWO

Casper Nyamukondiwa
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Casper Nyamukondiwa attained his BSc Agriculture (Hons) degree in 2004 from the University of Zimbabwe. He then worked for the Plant Protection Research Institute (PPRI) of Zimbabwe for 2 years as a Research Officer (Entomology) before he left to further his studies. He then started his MSc Agriculture in Entomology in January 2007 at Stellenbosch University, South Africa which he completed in December 2008. He is currently studying for a PhD Agriculture (Entomology) degree at Stellenbosch University. His research interests are in the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) of economic agricultural pests and is working on the thermotolerance of fruit flies (Ceratitis rosa and Ceratitis capitata) (Diptera: Tephritidae): implications for geographic distribution, overwintering physiology and pest management. The Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) and the Natal fruit fly Ceratitis rosa Karsch are deleterious fruit pests that hinder the economic production of deciduous and citrus crops in South Africa. Both species are multivoltine international quarantine pests that are highly polyphagous, invasive and widely distributed in Africa. However, current work aimed at predicting potential Ceratitis rosa and capitata distribution in the Western Cape region, South Africa requires thermotolerance data in order to predict the geographic distribution of these flies. Survival of extreme temperatures is also a critical aspect of population dynamics for both species. This project aims to investigate several aspects of C. rosa and C. capitata thermal biology. First, geographic variation of thermotolerance, indicative of local climatic adaptation, among fruit fly populations is currently unknown. Second, overwintering strategy (i.e. where and how flies survive during the winter), is currently unknown for local fruit fly populations and is an important source of reinfestation for Ceratitis species each spring. Third, factors influencing temperature tolerance within C. capitata and C. rosa populations (e.g. age, gender, feeding/reproductive status) have not been well investigated. Furthermore, it is also significant to consider how the thermal environment affects survival and how it might limit the behavioral activity of Ceratitis species. Few studies have considered the physiological responses to temperature treatment (i.e. phenotypic plasticity) of Ceratitis species. Phenotypic plasticity is a major mechanism used by arthropods to cope with temperature fluctuations both daily and seasonally and also upon introduction to novel environments. Finally, the success of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) programs in the control of fruit flies may be improved by pre-conditioning laboratory-reared flies prior to release in the wild to enhance field thermotolerance, performance and survival. Consequently, this project aims to explore 1) how temperature might influence the population dynamics through mortality, and hence, overwintering physiology and geographic distribution of C. rosa and C. capitata and 2) how fly thermotolerance might be manipulated for the successful control of these species. He is currently on a research visit at the University of Western Ontario and is working on phenotypic plasticity of thermal tolerance in several fruit flies species.

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