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Proc Biol Sci. 2000 Aug 7;267(1452):1511-5.

Developmental trade-offs and life histories: strategic allocation of resources in caddis flies.

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Division of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology, Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, Glasgow University, UK.


Resource allocation trade-offs during development are potentially very important in the evolution of organism morphology and life-history strategy However, they have rarely been demonstrated empirically. To what extent the division of limited resources between growing organs is a consequence of particular developmental pathways or varies strategically in line with life-history predictions is unknown. It has been demonstrated in a number of holometabolous insects that altering the resources available at pupation changes the pattern of allocation to adult tissues, but this has not been examined in a life-history context. Using caddis flies (Trichoptera), we show here that the effect of depleted larval resources on the pattern of somatic and reproductive investment is not fixed but varies between species with different life-history patterns. In particular, we demonstrate that, in a long-lived species, thorax size is preserved, which contrasts with the pattern previously observed in a short-lived species. That the adult body can be differentially altered by the same resource depletion in the larvae demonstrates that the allocation of resources amongst body parts is not a consequence of fixed pathways during development. Rather, the allocation of resources during development can occur in a manner consistent with the minimization of the effects on adult fitness.

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