Reproductive strategies of female butterflies: variation in and constraints on fecundity


Dr C. L. Boggs, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, U.S.A.



  • 1This study first examines the reproductive strategy of female Speyeria mormonia Edwards (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae):
  • 2Egg weight and number laid per day decrease with age.
  • 3Survival and daily egg number may be affected by temperature; mean daily egg weight is not affected by temperature.
  • 4Daily egg number is not correlated with body size. In the central range of body size, egg weight is also not correlated with body size. However, exceptionally large or small females lay respectively heavier or lighter eggs than average.
  • 5A simple trade-off between offspring size and number does not occur within females on a daily basis, or among females averaged over their lifespans.
  • 6Fat body resources are depleted at a rate independent of body size.
  • 7Females are essentially monogamous.
  • 8Age-specific fecundity data reported here for S.mormonia are next compared with data for other Lepidoptera with different adult feeding habits and egg maturation patterns, and hence different possibilities for adult feeding to play a role in egg production. Based on these comparisons, I propose that the shape of the age-specific fecundity curve for each species under optimal conditions is constrained by the potential importance of adult nutrients in egg production.