Bayreuther Institut für Terrestrische Ökosystemforschung
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Stadler, B: Adaptive allocation of resources and life-history trade-offs in aphids relative to plant quality, Oecologia, 102, 246-254 (1995)
The need to balance a limited amount of energy between different life-history traits is a fundamental assumption in life-history theory. However, it has often turned out to be extremely difficult to measure competing processes that contribute to costs or benefits for individual organisms. The present investigation begins by analysing how an aphid clonal lineage adapts its reproductive investment to moderate changes in host plant quality (e.g. during the life cycle of its host). Using Centaurea jacea and Uroleucon jaceae as a model plant-aphid system, I show that reproductive investment can be far more complex than indicated by the dry or wet mass of the gonads alone. The amount of embryos of a particular size class or developmental state present in the reproductive system of an aphid is highly flexible and is influenced by the quality of the host plant. Next, the effects of a particular reproductive investment on survival during periods of food deprivation are analysed for aphids originating from host-plant of different qualities. When food stress is severe the ability to rapidly resorb and reallocate resources committed to offspring is important for survival. However, this ability is limited. I argue that, in periods of food stress, young, unsclerotized embryos might serve as a kind of energy buffer similar to a fat body and are therefore not cost relevant to cost-benefit calculations. However, embryos that are beginning to sclerotize within the ovarioles are not available for resorption and resource allocation. They compete for nutrients with their mother and contribute to costs. Therefore, it is suggested that the reproductive investment of an aphid should not be equated with reproductive costs in a general way. The dynamics of adaptive resource allocation and resorption are a key feature of an aphid"s life-history, and the implications for life-history theory are discussed.
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