Population Ecology


, Volume 153, Issue 3, pp 569-578

First online:

Mobility and lifetime fecundity in new versus old populations of the Glanville fritillary butterfly

  • Marjo SaastamoinenAffiliated withDepartment of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki Email author 

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Life history theory often assumes a trade-off between dispersal and reproduction, and such a trade-off is commonly observed in wing-dimorphic insects. The results are less consistent for wing-monomorphic species, for which it is more difficult to assess dispersal capacity and rate. Three replicate experiments were carried out in consecutive years on the Glanville fritillary butterfly in a large outdoor population cage to study the relationship between lifetime egg production and mobility. The experimental material included females originating from newly-established and old populations, as previous studies have shown dispersal capacity to depend on population age. There was a consistent and significant interaction between mobility and population age, such that in newly-established populations mobile females had higher fecundity than less mobile females, while in old populations there was no such relationship. As selection favours individuals with the highest fecundity, selection pressure on mobility is likely to be different between the two population types, which may contribute to maintenance of variation in dispersal rate in the metapopulation as a whole. Several other female traits also affected lifetime fecundity, including lifespan, number of matings and date of eclosion, although these effects were not consistent across the years. These results highlight the importance of conducting experiments in more than one year before generalizing about patterns in life history variation.


Fecundity Life history Population age Reproduction Trade-off