Offspring size plasticity in response to intraspecific competition: An adaptive maternal effect across life-history stages

Allen, Richard M., Buckley, Yvonne M. and Marshall, Dustin J. (2008) Offspring size plasticity in response to intraspecific competition: An adaptive maternal effect across life-history stages. The American Naturalist, 171 2: 225-237. doi:10.1086/524952

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Author Allen, Richard M.
Buckley, Yvonne M.
Marshall, Dustin J.
Title Offspring size plasticity in response to intraspecific competition: An adaptive maternal effect across life-history stages
Journal name The American Naturalist   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0003-0147
Publication date 2008-02
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1086/524952
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 171
Issue 2
Start page 225
End page 237
Total pages 13
Editor M. C. Whitlock
Place of publication Chicago, IL, United States
Publisher University of Chicago Press
Collection year 2008
Language eng
Subject C1
270706 Life Histories (incl. Population Ecology)
770403 Living resources (flora and fauna)
770302 Living resources (incl. impacts of fishing on non-target species)
06 Biological Sciences
060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl. Marine Ichthyology)
060308 Life Histories
Abstract When provisioning offspring, mothers balance the benefits of producing a few large, fitter offspring with the costs of decreased fecundity. The optimal balance between offspring size and fecundity depends on the environment. Theory predicts that larger offspring have advantages in adverse conditions, but in favorable conditions size is less important. Thus, if environmental quality varies, selection should favor mothers that adaptively allocate resources in response to local conditions to maximize maternal fitness. In the bryozoan Bugula neritina, we show that the intensity of intraspecific competition dramatically changes the offspring size/performance relationship in the field. In benign or extremely competitive environments, offspring size is less important, but at intermediate levels of competition, colonies from larger larvae have higher performance than colonies from smaller larvae. We predicted mothers should produce larger offspring when intermediate competition is likely and tested these expectations in the field by manipulating the density of brood colonies. Our findings matched expectations: mothers produced larger larvae at high densities and smaller larvae at low densities. In addition, mothers from high‐density environments produced larvae that have higher dispersal potential, which may enable offspring to escape crowded environments. It appears mothers can adaptively adjust offspring size to maximize maternal fitness, altering the offspring phenotype across multiple life‐history stages.
Keyword maternal effects
adaptive phenotypic plasticity
offspring size
dispersal
competition
transgeneration
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Additional Notes Electronically published December 20, 2007

 
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Created: Wed, 16 Apr 2008, 12:26:10 EST by Gail Walter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences