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J Insect Physiol. 2008 Aug;54(8):1253-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2008.06.002.

Effects of temperature on reproductive output, egg provisioning, juvenile hormone and vitellogenin titres in the butterfly Bicyclus anynana.

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Department of Animal Ecology I, University of Bayreuth, P.O. Box 101 251, D-95440 Bayreuth, Germany.


Environmentally induced phenotypic plasticity is common in nature. Hormones, affecting multiple traits and signaling to a variety of distant target tissues, provide a mechanistic link between environments, genes and trait expression, and may therefore well be involved in the regulation phenotypic plasticity. Here, we investigate whether in the tropical butterfly Bicyclus anynana temperature-mediated plasticity in egg size and number, with fewer but larger eggs produced at lower temperatures and vice versa, is under control of juvenile hormone, and whether different temperatures cause differences in egg composition. Female B. anynana butterflies showed the expected response to temperature, however, we found no evidence for an involvement of juvenile hormone. Neither haemolymph JH II and JH III titres nor vitellogenin levels differed across temperatures. The smaller eggs produced at the higher temperature contained relatively higher amounts of water, free carbohydrates and proteins, but relatively lower amounts of lipids. While these smaller eggs had a lower absolute energy content, total reproductive investment was higher at the higher temperature (due to a higher fecundity). Overall, our study indicates that temperature-mediated plasticity in reproduction in B. anynana is mechanistically related to a biophysical model, with oocyte production (differentiation) and oocyte growth (vitellogenesis) having differential temperature sensitivities.

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