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Oecologia. 2009 Aug;161(2):267-77. doi: 10.1007/s00442-009-1389-7. Epub 2009 Jun 21.

Life history plasticity and fitness in a caddisfly in response to proximate cues of pond-drying.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Winthrop University, 202 Life Sciences, Rock Hill, SC 29733, USA.


Pond-drying is a model for understanding the causes of life history variation in metamorphic organisms. However, we know relatively little about how interactions among specific proximate cues of pond-drying affect juvenile life history, how those responses might be mitigated by diet, and the post-metamorphic consequences for adult fitness. I manipulated larval diet, water depth, and water temperature during the aquatic larval stage of a temporary pond-dwelling caddisfly, Limnephilus indivisus. I predicted that shallow depths and warm temperatures (depth x temperature) associated with pond-drying would have negative effects on larval survival, growth, development, adult size, female fecundity, and adult longevity, but that supplementation of the larval diet should mitigate the trade-off between juvenile growth and pre-reproductive mortality risk by ameliorating the negative effects of pond-drying (diet x depth, diet x temperature) on these traits. Larval survival was enhanced by diet supplementation but was not affected by depth or temperature. Larval diet and water temperatures acted independently on growth, development, and female size, and growth rates were higher when larval diets were supplemented relative to ambient diets; development times were shorter when temperatures were warmer relative to colder; adult females were larger when larvae were fed a supplemented diet but smaller when reared in warm water. Larval growth and development were not affected by depth, but female size was reduced under shallow relative to deep conditions. Female longevity and fecundity were affected by the larval diet x female size interaction. Surprisingly, this was independent of the depth x temperature interaction on female longevity and fecundity suggesting that reductions in adult fitness due to juvenile abiotic conditions can be independent of size-at-maturity. Future studies should quantify the effect of proximate cues of pond-drying on juvenile survival and life history as well as adult fitness correlates.

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