• genetic correlations;
  • growth;
  • marine bivalves;
  • phenotypic plasticity;
  • quantitative genetics;
  • reproductive effort;
  • resource allocation;
  • spatial heterogeneity;
  • survival;
  • trade-offs


We investigated the quantitative genetics of plasticity in resource allocation between survival, growth and reproductive effort in Crassostrea gigas when food abundance varies spatially. Resource allocation shifted from survival to growth and reproductive effort as food abundance increased. An optimality model suggests that this plastic shift may be adaptive. Reproductive effort plasticity and mean survival were highly heritable, whereas for growth, both mean and plasticity had low heritability. The genetic correlations between reproductive effort and both survival and growth were negative in poor treatments, suggesting trade-offs, but positive in rich ones. These sign reversals may reflect genetic variability in resource acquisition, which would only be expressed when food is abundant. Finally, we found positive genetic correlations between reproductive effort plasticity and both growth and survival means. The latter may reflect adaptation of C. gigas to differential sensitivity of fitness to survival, such that genetic variability in survival mean might support genetic variability in reproductive effort plasticity.