, Volume 140, Issue 1, pp 68-75
Date: 12 May 2004

Life-history variation in relation to time constraints in a damselfly

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Although variation within populations in plasticity to time constraints is expected with regard to hatching date, empirical studies are largely lacking. We studied life-history responses to time constraints manipulated by photoperiod and associated with hatching date in larvae of the damselfly Lestes viridis for two populations with a different hydroperiod. In a common garden experiment, early- and late-hatched larvae from both populations were reared at two photoperiods mimicking the start and the end of the egg-hatching season. In a reciprocal transplant experiment, early- and late-hatched larvae from both populations were reared in both ponds. In all these experiments, larvae were reared from egg hatching until adult emergence. Within both populations, larvae reared at the photoperiod indicating a late time point in the growing season, reduced development time to compensate for their perceived shorter development period. Growth rate, however, did not respond to photoperiod, resulting in a lower mass at emergence. As expected, both in the laboratory and in the field, larvae from eggs that hatched later in the season generally had a shorter development time and a faster growth rate, resulting in a higher mass at emergence compared to early-hatched larvae. This may explain the intriguing seasonal increase in mass at emergence in this species, and affect the predictions of optimality models. None of these life-history responses differed between the two populations, despite clear differences in time constraints linked to hydroperiod, suggesting the robustness of the observed patterns. Given the ubiquity of asynchronous hatching in nature, and the adaptive value of the observed differences between early- and late-hatched larvae, we expect the effects of hatching date on life-history plasticity to be widespread.