, Volume 179, Issue 1, pp 87-98
Date: 22 Jul 2008

Energetics of embryonic development: effects of temperature on egg and hatchling composition in a butterfly

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Phenotypic plasticity may allow an organism to adjust its phenotype to environmental needs. However, little is known about environmental effects on offspring biochemical composition and turnover rates, including energy budgets and developmental costs. Using the tropical butterfly Bicyclus anynana and employing a full-factorial design with two oviposition and two developmental temperatures, we explore the consequences of temperature variation on egg and hatchling composition, and the associated use and turnover of energy and egg compounds. At the lower temperature, larger but fewer eggs were produced. Larger egg sizes were achieved by provisioning these eggs with larger quantities of all compounds investigated (and thus more energy), whilst relative egg composition was rather similar to that of smaller eggs laid at the higher temperature. Turnover rates during embryonic development differed across developmental temperatures, suggesting an emphasis on hatchling quality (i.e. protein content) at the more stressful lower temperature, but on storage reserves (i.e. lipids) at the higher temperature. These differences may represent adaptive maternal effects. Embryonic development was much more efficient at the lower temperature, providing a possible mechanism underlying the temperature-size rule.

Communicated by G. Heldmaier.