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Data from: Effects of early nutritional stress on physiology, life-histories and their trade-offs in a model ectothermic vertebrate

Citation

Holden, Kaitlyn G.; Reding, Dawn M.; Ford, Neil B.; Bronikowski, Anne M. (2019), Data from: Effects of early nutritional stress on physiology, life-histories and their trade-offs in a model ectothermic vertebrate, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.mf1gm3p

Abstract

Early-life experiences can have far-reaching consequences for phenotypes into adulthood. The effect of early-life experiences on fitness, particularly under adverse conditions, is mediated by resource allocation to particular life-history traits. We examined the effects of early-life food restriction on growth, adult body size, physiology and reproduction in the checkered garter snake, Thamnophis marcianus. Animals were placed on one of two early-life diet treatments: normal-diet (approximating ad libitum feeding) or low-diet (restricted to 20% of body mass in food weekly). At 15 weeks of age low-diet animals were switched to the normal-diet treatment. Individuals fed a restricted diet showed reduced growth rates, depressed immunocompetence and a heightened glucocorticoid response. Once food restriction was lifted, animals that experienced nutritional stress early in life (low-diet) caught up to the normal-diet group by increasing their growth, and were able to recover from the negative effects of nutritional stress on physiology (immune function and stress response). Growth restriction and the subsequent allocation of resources into increasing growth rates, however, had a negative effect on fitness. Mating success was reduced in low-diet males, while low-diet females gave birth to smaller offspring. Our study demonstrates both immediate and long-term effects of nutritional stress on physiology and growth, reproduction, and trade-offs among them.

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