Bridging developmental boundaries: lifelong dietary patterns modulate life histories in a parthenogenetic insect

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Article (Journal or Newsletter)

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Faculty Scholarship

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Determining the effects of lifelong intake patterns on performance is challenging for many species, primarily because of methodological constraints. Here, we used a parthenogenetic insect (Carausius morosus) to determine the effects of limited and unlimited food availability across multiple life-history stages. Using a parthenogen allowed us to quantify intake by juvenile and adult females and to evaluate the morphological, physiological, and life-history responses to intake, all without the confounding influences of pair-housing, mating, and male behavior. In our study, growth rate prior to reproductive maturity was positively correlated with both adult and reproductive lifespans but negatively correlated with total lifespan. Food limitation had opposing effects on lifespan depending on when it was imposed, as it protracted development in juveniles but hastened death in adults. Food limitation also constrained reproduction regardless of when food was limited, although decreased fecundity was especially pronounced in individuals that were food-limited as late juveniles and adults. Additional carry-over effects of juvenile food limitation included smaller adult size and decreased body condition at the adult molt, but these effects were largely mitigated in insects that were switched to ad libitum feeding as late juveniles. Our data provide little support for the existence of a trade-off between longevity and fecundity, perhaps because these functions were fueled by different nutrient pools. However, insects that experienced a switch to the limited diet at reproductive maturity seem to have fueled egg production by drawing down body stores, thus providing some evidence for a life-history trade-off. Our results provide important insights into the effects of food limitation and indicate that performance is modulated by intake both within and across life-history stages.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.