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A cost of being large: genetically large yellow dung flies lose out in intra-specific food competition


Blanckenhorn, Wolf U; Hoeck, Paquita E A; Reim, Constanze; Teuschl, Yvonne (2011). A cost of being large: genetically large yellow dung flies lose out in intra-specific food competition. Evolutionary Ecology, 25(4):875-884.

Abstract

Most life history traits are positively influenced by body size, while disadvantages of large size are poorly documented. To investigate presumed intrinsic costs of large body size in yellow dung flies (Scathophaga stercoraria; Diptera: Scathophagidae), we allowed larvae from replicate lines artificially selected for small and large body size for 21 generations to compete directly with each other at 20°C (benign) and 25°C (stressful) and low and high food (dung) availability. Greater mortality of large line flies was evident at low food independent of temperature, suggesting a cost of fast growth and/or long development for genetically large flies during larval scramble competition under food limitation. Our results are congruent with a previous study assessing mortality when competing within body size lines, so no additional mechanisms affecting scramble or contest behavior of larvae need be invoked to explain the results obtained beyond the costs of longer development and faster growth. Thus, artificial selection producing larger yellow dung flies than occur in nature revealed some, albeit weak mortality costs of large body size that otherwise might have remained cryptic. We conclude, however, that these costs are insufficient to explain the evolutionary limits of large body size in this species given persistently strong fecundity and sexual selection favoring large size in both sexes.

Abstract

Most life history traits are positively influenced by body size, while disadvantages of large size are poorly documented. To investigate presumed intrinsic costs of large body size in yellow dung flies (Scathophaga stercoraria; Diptera: Scathophagidae), we allowed larvae from replicate lines artificially selected for small and large body size for 21 generations to compete directly with each other at 20°C (benign) and 25°C (stressful) and low and high food (dung) availability. Greater mortality of large line flies was evident at low food independent of temperature, suggesting a cost of fast growth and/or long development for genetically large flies during larval scramble competition under food limitation. Our results are congruent with a previous study assessing mortality when competing within body size lines, so no additional mechanisms affecting scramble or contest behavior of larvae need be invoked to explain the results obtained beyond the costs of longer development and faster growth. Thus, artificial selection producing larger yellow dung flies than occur in nature revealed some, albeit weak mortality costs of large body size that otherwise might have remained cryptic. We conclude, however, that these costs are insufficient to explain the evolutionary limits of large body size in this species given persistently strong fecundity and sexual selection favoring large size in both sexes.

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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:2011
Deposited On:12 Mar 2012 12:35
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:43
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0269-7653
Additional Information:The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10682-010-9442-x

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