Energetics of reproduction and its evolutionary implications



The majority of invertebrates so far studied are more efficient converters of absorbed food energy to gametes than they are, as adults, to somatic tissues. Indeed, reproductive conversion efficiencies sometimes better the best conversion efficiencies associated with somatic production (usually in juveniles). Depending on species, this is achieved either by an increase in absorption relative to respiratory losses, or a reduction in respiratory losses relative to absorption, or by supplementing the energy absorbed from the food with that obtained from somatic stores and tissues, or by a combination of these. The fact that the metabolic processes associated with gamete production are distinct from those associated with the production of somatic tissues has implications for the theory of life-cycle evolution.