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Data from: A limit on the extent to which increased egg size can compensate for a poor postnatal environment revealed experimentally in the burying beetle, Nicrophorus vespilloides

Citation

Schrader, Matthew et al. (2016), Data from: A limit on the extent to which increased egg size can compensate for a poor postnatal environment revealed experimentally in the burying beetle, Nicrophorus vespilloides, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.57433

Abstract

It is often assumed that there is a positive relationship between egg size and offspring fitness. However, recent studies have suggested that egg size has a greater effect on offspring fitness in low-quality environments than in high-quality environments. Such observations suggest that mothers may compensate for poor posthatching environments by increasing egg size. In this paper we test whether there is a limit on the extent to which increased egg size can compensate for the removal of posthatching parental care in the burying beetle, Nicrophorus vespilloides. Previous experiments with N. vespilloides suggest that an increased egg size can compensate for a relatively poor environment after hatching. Here, we phenotypically engineered female N. vespilloides to produce large or small eggs by varying the amount of time they were allowed to feed on the carcass as larvae. We then tested whether differences between these groups in egg size translated into differences in larval performance in a harsh postnatal environment that excluded parental care. We found that females engineered to produce large eggs did not have higher breeding success, and nor did they produce larger larvae than females engineered to produce small eggs. These results suggest that there is a limit on the extent to which increased maternal investment in egg size can compensate for a poor posthatching environment. We discuss the implication of our results for a recent study showing that experimental N. vespilloides populations can adapt rapidly to the absence of posthatching parental care.

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