Nutrition during sexual maturation affects competitive ability but not reproductive productivity in burying beetles
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Wiley via the DOI in this record.
Food availability can be unpredictable. When food becomes more abundant following a period of low food availability, developing larvae or juveniles often allocate resources preferentially towards increasing growth. This has important long-term effects on adult phenotypes and longevity. Despite the importance of strategic resource allocation during early development, few studies have examined how changes in resource availability during other windows of development affect reproductive strategies and fitness independent of growth. We manipulated food availability in a burying beetle, Nicrophorus vespilloides, during a subadult period of sexual maturation when individuals cannot increase structural size but are still undergoing reproductive maturation. In contrast to the trade-offs during larval or juvenile growth, beetles that experienced delayed feeding during reproductive maturation allocated resources preferentially towards maintaining both reproductive function and longevity. In both sexes, delayed feeding beetles were much less successful in competition for carcasses. However, delayed feeding males and females provided similar amounts of parental care and did not differ in reproductive success or longevity. These results indicate that the nutritional environment experienced during a key developmental window may be an important determinant of the expression of alternative reproductive strategies in adulthood, independent of body size. © 2013 British Ecological Society.
Vol. 27, iss. 6, pp. 1350 - 1357