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Data from: Food-deprivation affects egg laying and maternal care but not offspring performance in a beetle

Citation

Richardson, Jon; Ross, Jennifer; Smiseth, Per T. (2019), Data from: Food-deprivation affects egg laying and maternal care but not offspring performance in a beetle, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.8189524

Abstract

Individuals vary with respect to their nutritional state and such variation is an important determinant of the amount of resources individuals allocate towards reproductive functions. Currently, we have a relatively poor understanding of the downstream consequences of food deprivation on different traits associated with reproduction. Here, we address this gap by investigating how food deprivation affected different traits across the breeding cycle in the burying beetle, Nicrophorus vespilloides; a species that breeds on carcasses of small vertebrates serving as food for both parents and offspring. We found that food-deprived females took longer to start egg laying than control females, which may allow them more time to feed from the carcass. There was no difference between food-deprived and control females in the number, size, laying pattern or hatching success of eggs, suggesting that this delay allowed females to compensate for their poor initial state. However, food-deprived females spent less time providing care, suggesting that this compensation was incomplete. Finally, we found no evidence for negative effects of food deprivation on the offspring’s growth or survival, which is surprising given that food-deprived females took longer to initiate egg laying and provided less care to their offspring. Our results highlight that food deprivation can have complex effects on parental and offspring traits, and suggest that females face a trade-off between the benefits of mitigating downstream consequences of nutritional stress and the costs associated with delaying the start of reproduction.

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