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Data from: Parental care trade-offs and life history relationships in insects

Cite this dataset

Gilbert, James; Manica, Andrea (2010). Data from: Parental care trade-offs and life history relationships in insects [Dataset]. Dryad.


Insect parental care is extensive and varied, but its life history implications have never been comparatively tested. Using original and literature data, we tested predictions about egg size, egg number (lifetime fecundity) and body size, under different parental care modes across a phylogeny of 275 insect species. Life history theory and both comparative and intraspecific evidence from ectotherms suggest parental care should select for bigger, fewer eggs, but that allometric scaling of egg size and lifetime fecundity may depend on whether care consists of provisioning (density-dependent offspring survival) or merely guarding (density-independent offspring survival). Against expectation, egg size was indistinguishable among parental care modes, covarying only with body size. This refutes most theory of egg size evolution under parental care. Lifetime fecundity scaled differently depending on parental investment - positively under no care and guarding as in most ectotherms, but negatively under provisioning. Reproductive allocation in provisioning insects resembled mammals and birds, also groups with obligate provisioning. We propose that the metabolic demands of multiple offspring must scale with species body size more steeply than the parent's provisioning capacity, resulting in larger females laying fewer eggs. These patterns lay the groundwork for a more general understanding of parental care and life history.

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