, Volume 84, Issue 1, pp 69–73 | Cite as

Reproduction and the energy cost of defense in a Batesian mimicry complex

  • Martin Hetz
  • C. N. Slobodchikoff
Original Papers


The amount of energy invested in reproduction and in defense was examined in a Batesian mimicry complex consisting of the modelEleodes obscura and the mimicStenomorpha marginata (both Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae). Models live up to 4 y as adults while mimic adults live only 3 mo. The energy content of the eggs of the model and mimic was determined by microbomb calorimetry. The energy content of the defensive secretions produced by the model was determined by computational chemistry and MNDO computer programming. Contrary to the predictions of some life-history theory, the long-lived model annually produces many small eggs each of low energetic content, while the short-lived mimic annually produces fewer, larger eggs each of high energetic content. However, in terms of total energy, the long-lived model has an annual investment in reproduction equal to that of the short-lived mimic. During the 3 mo of co-ocurrence of models and mimics within a year, an average individual model's cost in using defensive secretions against potential predators is 12% of the amount of energy tied up in the eggs that it produces within the year. The annual cost of defense for the model is 18% of the energy contained in the mean number of eggs produced. When the energy allocated to eggs is added to that allocated to defense, the model has an annual investiment that is greater than the annual investment in reproduction by the mimic. Although the energy invested in defense by the model is small relative to the energy invested in egg production, it buys the model considerable protection from predation. Nevertheless, the cost of defense does not explain the deviations from the predictions of life-history theory.

Key words

Energy cost Reproduction Defense Eleodes obscura Stenomorpha marginata 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Hetz
    • 1
  • C. N. Slobodchikoff
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA

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