Sex differences in the effects of juvenile and adult diet on age-dependent reproductive effort



Houslay T, Hunt J, Tinsley MC & Bussiere L (2015) Sex differences in the effects of juvenile and adult diet on age-dependent reproductive effort. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 28 (5), pp. 1067-1079.

Sexual selection should cause sex differences in patterns of resource allocation. When current and future reproductive effort trade off, variation in resource acquisition might further cause sex differences in age-dependent investment, or in sensitivity to changes in resource availability over time. However, the nature and prevalence of sex differences in age-dependent investment remain unclear. We manipulated resource acquisition at juvenile and adult stages in decorated crickets,Gryllodes sigillatus, and assessed effects on sex-specific allocation to age-dependent reproductive effort (calling in males, fecundity in females) and longevity. We predicted that the resource and time demands of egg production would result in relatively consistent female strategies across treatments, whereas male investment should depend sharply on diet. Contrary to expectations, female age-dependent reproductive effort diverged substantially across treatments, with resource-limited females showing much lower and later investment in reproduction; the highest fecundity was associated with intermediate lifespans. In contrast, long-lived males always signalled more than short-lived males, and male age-dependent reproductive effort did not depend on diet. We found consistently positive covariance between male reproductive effort and lifespan, whereas diet altered this covariance in females, revealing sex differences in the benefits of allocation to longevity. Our results support sex-specific selection on allocation patterns, but also suggest a simpler alternative: males may use social feedback to make allocation decisions and preferentially store resources as energetic reserves in its absence. Increased calling effort with age therefore could be caused by gradual resource accumulation, heightened mortality risk over time, and a lack of feedback from available mates.

age-dependent reproductive effort; life history evolution; reproductive senescence; resource acquisition; Sex differences; sexual selection

Journal of Evolutionary Biology: Volume 28, Issue 5

Publication date31/05/2015
Publication date online18/04/2015
Date accepted by journal24/03/2015

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Professor Matthew Tinsley

Professor Matthew Tinsley

Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences