A fecundity cost of (walking) mobility in an insect


  • JS was supported by DFG grants (Ko1494/1-1, Ko1494/1-2).


Dr. Jörg Samietz, Swiss Federal Research Station ACW, Schloss 1, 185, Wädenswil, CH-8820, Switzerland. Tel: +41 44 783 61 93; Fax: +41 44 783 64 34; E-mail: joerg.samietz@acw.admin.ch


Evolutionary theory predicts trade-offs between fecundity and mobility, but there is substantial lack of empirical evidence if and how basic mobility relates to fitness costs. In a field experiment, we investigated fecundity costs of mobility in a non-migratory, wing-monomorphic grasshopper, Stenobothrus lineatus, and at the same time tested for possible effects of reproductive state (egg-load) on the mobility. For 10 days, body weight and activity radius of 60 females were recorded daily and oviposition events were inferred from abrupt weight losses. We found a strong and significant relationship between the individual mobility and the time between egg pods laid (interpod period). Individual egg-laying was reduced by a rate of 0.36 eggs per day with each meter increase in mean daily activity radius. The trade-off was not biased by the size of the females, that is, constitution did not positively influence both offspring number and mobility. Egg-load had no significant influence on the individual distances travelled. We could demonstrate that mobility – as induced and selected for by foraging, thermoregulation, predator escape, shelter seeking, and reproduction – can be directly paid off by fecundity. This direct consequence of mobility on individual fitness was detected for the first time in a walking insect.