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Keywords:

  • Age at first reproduction;
  • aging;
  • caloric restriction;
  • mating system;
  • pulmonate;
  • transgenerational effects;
  • waiting time

Abstract

Reproductive success is a critical fitness attribute that is directly influenced by resource availability. Here, we investigate the effects of diet-based resource availability on three interrelated aspects of reproductive success: a change in mating system based on mate availability, consequent inbreeding depression, and the deterioration of reproductive efficiency with age (senescence). We employed a factorial experimental design using 22 full-sib families of the hermaphroditic freshwater snail Physa acuta to explore these interactions. Individual snails were reared in one of two mate-availability treatments (isolated [selfing] or occasionally paired [outcrossing]) and one of two diet treatments (boiled lettuce or Spirulina, an algae that is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals). Spirulina-fed snails initiated reproduction at a 13% earlier age and 7% larger size than lettuce-fed snails. Spirulina also resulted in a 30% reduction in the time delay before selfing. Compared to lettuce, a diet of Spirulina increased inbreeding depression by 52% for egg hatching rate and 64% for posthatching juvenile survival. Furthermore, Spirulina led to a 15-fold increase in the rate of reproductive senescence compared with a diet of lettuce. These transgenerational, interactive effects of diet on inbreeding depression and reproductive senescence are discussed in the context of diet-induced phenotypic plasticity.