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Critical weight mediates sex-specific body size plasticity and sexual dimorphism in the yellow dung fly Scathophaga stercoraria (Diptera: Scathophagidae)


Rohner, Patrick T; Blanckenhorn, Wolf U; Schäfer, Martin A (2017). Critical weight mediates sex-specific body size plasticity and sexual dimorphism in the yellow dung fly Scathophaga stercoraria (Diptera: Scathophagidae). Evolution & Development, 19(3):147-156.

Abstract

Ultimate factors driving insect body size are rather well understood, while—apart from a few model species—the underlying physiological and developmental mechanisms received less attention. We investigate the physiological basis of adaptive size variation in the yellow dung fly Scathophaga stercoraria, which shows pronounced male-biased sexual size dimorphism and strong body size plasticity. We estimate variation of a major physiological threshold, the critical weight, which is the mass at which a larva initiates pupariation. Critical weight was associated with sexual size dimorphism and sex-specific plasticity, and is thus a likely target of selection on adult size. Detailed larval growth trajectories derived from individuals raised at two food and temperature treatments further reveal that sex-specific size plasticity is mediated by faster initial growth of males that later becomes reduced by higher male weight loss during the wandering stage. We further demonstrate that integral growth rates, which are typically calculated as simple ratios of egg-to-adult development time and adult weight, do not necessarily well reflect variation in instantaneous growth rates. We illustrate the importance of detailed assessments of ontogenetic growth trajectories for the understanding of adaptive size variation and discuss the mechanistic basis of size determination in shaping sex-specific phenotypic plasticity.

Abstract

Ultimate factors driving insect body size are rather well understood, while—apart from a few model species—the underlying physiological and developmental mechanisms received less attention. We investigate the physiological basis of adaptive size variation in the yellow dung fly Scathophaga stercoraria, which shows pronounced male-biased sexual size dimorphism and strong body size plasticity. We estimate variation of a major physiological threshold, the critical weight, which is the mass at which a larva initiates pupariation. Critical weight was associated with sexual size dimorphism and sex-specific plasticity, and is thus a likely target of selection on adult size. Detailed larval growth trajectories derived from individuals raised at two food and temperature treatments further reveal that sex-specific size plasticity is mediated by faster initial growth of males that later becomes reduced by higher male weight loss during the wandering stage. We further demonstrate that integral growth rates, which are typically calculated as simple ratios of egg-to-adult development time and adult weight, do not necessarily well reflect variation in instantaneous growth rates. We illustrate the importance of detailed assessments of ontogenetic growth trajectories for the understanding of adaptive size variation and discuss the mechanistic basis of size determination in shaping sex-specific phenotypic plasticity.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:31 May 2017 14:32
Last Modified:31 May 2017 14:34
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1520-541X
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/ede.12223

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