Get access

Dietary phosphorus availability influences female cricket lifetime reproductive effort


Susan M. Bertram, Department of Biology, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6, Canada. E-mail:


1. Recent ecological stoichiometric findings indicate that the relationships among key macronutrient elements [e.g. carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) of organisms and their resources] may underlie variation in life-history traits. The amount of phosphorus in an individual's body is often correlated with its rate of growth, and low-phosphorus diets are known to reduce growth in a number of insect and crustacean herbivores.

2. These findings suggest that the stoichiometric imbalance between organismal biomass requirements and the relative scarcity of nutrients in nature may also underlie variation in lifetime reproductive success.

3. This study investigated how dietary phosphorus availability during adulthood influenced lifetime reproductive effort, compensatory feeding, lifespan, condition, and stoichiometry of adult European House Cricket, Acheta domesticus.

4. Female crickets fed high amounts of phosphorus during adulthood laid significantly more eggs compared to those fed low amounts of phosphorus. Phosphorus availability did not directly influence lifespan, condition, or body stoichiometry, and crickets did not compensate for low phosphorus diets by eating more food.

5. A stoichiometric perspective may help understand the causes of variation in invertebrate fitness.