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Adaptive phenotypic plasticity in growth, development, and body size in the yellow dung fly


Blanckenhorn, Wolf U (1998). Adaptive phenotypic plasticity in growth, development, and body size in the yellow dung fly. Evolution, 52(5):1394-1407.

Abstract

Life‐history theory predicts that age and size at maturity of organisms should be influenced by time and food constraints on development. This study investigated phenotypic plasticity in growth, development, body size, and diapause in the yellow dung fly, Scathophaga stercoraria. Full‐sib families were allowed to develop under predator‐free field conditions. The time before the onset of winter was varied and each brood was split into three environments differing in the amount of dung a set number of larvae had as a resource. When resources were abundant and competition was minimal, individuals of both sexes grew to larger body sizes, took longer time to mature, and were able to increase their growth rates to attain large body sizes despite shorter effective development periods later in the season. In contrast, limited larval resources and strong competition constrained individuals to mature earlier at a smaller adult size, and growth rates could not be increased but were at least maintained. This outcome is predicted by only two life‐history optimality models, which treat mortality due to long development periods and mortality due to fast growth as independent. Elevated preadult mortality indicated physiological costs of fast growth independent of predation. When larval resources were limited, mortality increased with heritable variation in development time for males, and toward the end of the season mortality increased as larval resources became more abundant because this induced longer development periods. Sexual and fecundity selection favoring large body size in this species is thus opposed by larval viability selection favoring slower growth in general and shorter development periods when time and resources are limited; this overall combination of selective pressures is presumably shaping the reaction norms obtained here. Flexible growth rates are facilitated by low genetic correlations between development time and body size, a possible consequence of selection for plasticity. Heritable variation was evident in all traits investigated, as well as in phenotypic plasticity of these traits (genotype X interactions). This is possibly maintained by unpredictable spatiotemporal variation in dung abundance, competition, and hence selection.

Abstract

Life‐history theory predicts that age and size at maturity of organisms should be influenced by time and food constraints on development. This study investigated phenotypic plasticity in growth, development, body size, and diapause in the yellow dung fly, Scathophaga stercoraria. Full‐sib families were allowed to develop under predator‐free field conditions. The time before the onset of winter was varied and each brood was split into three environments differing in the amount of dung a set number of larvae had as a resource. When resources were abundant and competition was minimal, individuals of both sexes grew to larger body sizes, took longer time to mature, and were able to increase their growth rates to attain large body sizes despite shorter effective development periods later in the season. In contrast, limited larval resources and strong competition constrained individuals to mature earlier at a smaller adult size, and growth rates could not be increased but were at least maintained. This outcome is predicted by only two life‐history optimality models, which treat mortality due to long development periods and mortality due to fast growth as independent. Elevated preadult mortality indicated physiological costs of fast growth independent of predation. When larval resources were limited, mortality increased with heritable variation in development time for males, and toward the end of the season mortality increased as larval resources became more abundant because this induced longer development periods. Sexual and fecundity selection favoring large body size in this species is thus opposed by larval viability selection favoring slower growth in general and shorter development periods when time and resources are limited; this overall combination of selective pressures is presumably shaping the reaction norms obtained here. Flexible growth rates are facilitated by low genetic correlations between development time and body size, a possible consequence of selection for plasticity. Heritable variation was evident in all traits investigated, as well as in phenotypic plasticity of these traits (genotype X interactions). This is possibly maintained by unpredictable spatiotemporal variation in dung abundance, competition, and hence selection.

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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)
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Life Sciences > Genetics
Life Sciences > General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Language:English
Date:1 October 1998
Deposited On:22 Aug 2019 12:50
Last Modified:31 Jul 2020 03:32
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0014-3820
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1558-5646.1998.tb02021.x

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