From phenoloxidase to fecundity: food availability does not influence the costs of oxidative challenge in a wing-dimorphic cricket

  • Z. R. StahlschmidtEmail author
  • N. Jeong
  • D. Johnson
  • N. Meckfessel
Original Paper


Stressed animals often struggle to maintain optimal investment into a number of fitness-related traits, which can result in some traits being more adversely affected than others. Variation in stress-related costs may also depend on the environment—costs can be facultative and only occur when resources are limited, or they may be obligate and occur regardless of resource availability. Dynamics of oxidative stress may be important in life-history evolution given their role in a range of biological processes—from reproduction to immunity to locomotion. Thus, we examined how resource (food) availability influences the costs of oxidative challenge to fitness-related traits spanning several levels of biological organization. We manipulated food availability and oxidative status in females of the wing-dimorphic sand field cricket (Gryllus firmus) during early adulthood. We then determined investment into several traits: reproduction (ovary mass), soma (body mass and flight musculature), and immune function (total phenoloxidase activity). Oxidative challenge (paraquat exposure) obligated costs to somatic tissue and a parameter of immune function regardless of food availability, but it did not affect reproduction. We show that the costs of oxidative challenge are trait-specific, but we did not detect a facultative (food-dependent) cost of oxidative challenge to any trait measured. Although the dynamics of oxidative stress are complex, our study is an important step toward a more complete understanding of the roles that resource availability and redox systems play in mediating life histories.


Antioxidant Cricket Flight Life history Immunity Resource availability 



We thank Andy Byeon, Jordan Glass, Christina Koh, David Luc, Katherine Nguyen, and Carolyn Pak for animal care. We also appreciate feedback on the manuscript from Jordan Glass, and from two anonymous reviewers. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (IOS-1565695 to ZRS) and University of the Pacific (to ZRS).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of the PacificStocktonUSA

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