Compensatory growth following early nutritional stress in the Wolf Spider Pardosa prativaga


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  • 1Spiders may often be subjected to nutritional stress during their development, either because of lack of prey (starvation) or because the prey available is nutritionally insufficient or chemically defended (i.e. deterrent or toxic). The ability of the Wolf Spider Pardosa prativaga (L. Koch) to catch up on growth and development after treatment with different types and intensities of nutritional stress in the initial period of independent life was tested.
  • 2The stress types (prey) were: (1) starvation; (2) toxicity (the collembolan Folsomia candida Willem); (3) deterrency (the aphid Rhopalosiphum padi L.); (4) nutritional insufficiency (the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster Meigen). Nutrient-enriched D. melanogaster was used as control and was also the food given to the treated spiders after the stress period ended.
  • 3Though the spiderlings were set back considerably, especially by starvation and toxic and deterrent prey, those that survived achieved the same weight as the control spiders within 3–7 weeks, depending on treatment. The duration of instars after termination of the stress treatment was not affected. Thus, seemingly compensation was accomplished by a burst of supernormal growth initiated shortly after the stress was alleviated.
  • 4Growth compensation is considered a physiological mechanism that allows spiders an optimal seasonal timing of the life cycle even if their phenology is retarded in its early phases.