Clutch size and reproductive success in a female polymorphic insect
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Evolutionary ecology. - London
, p. 1239-1253
University of Antwerp
Differences in reproductive success (RS) between different groups of individuals are of interest to researchers studying natural and sexual selection. Since it is often not feasible to quantify RS in the wild, researchers make use of proxies instead. One such proxy is clutch size. However, research on species providing parental care (mainly birds and mammals) has learned that a large clutch size does not guarantee a large number of offspring. In contrast, much less is known on the link between clutch size and RS for species lacking parental care, such as many reptiles and insects. Here, we ask whether clutch size provides a satisfactory estimate of RS for a polymorphic insect. Our study species is a damselfly showing two distinct female morphs for which RS (estimated by clutch size) has been studied to evaluate the evolutionary role of sexual conflict. However, in this system not only among family variation in offspring viability, but also differences between female morphs, may affect how clutch size relates to offspring number and quality. To evaluate the use of clutch size as estimate of RS, we examined how clutch size correlated with subsequent success measures of developing offspring by rearing damselfly from eggs to adults under two laboratory food treatments. In both treatments, we detected that clutch size correlated well with offspring number early in larval life, but that this relation is reduced by among family variation in survival in later developmental stages. Clutch size was moderately correlated with the number of offspring that successfully metamorphosed to winged adults. Patterns did not differ between female morphs and the nature of the correlation could not be explained from offspring quantity-quality trade-offs.