• body size;
  • condition;
  • diet;
  • environmental effects;
  • maternal effects;
  • Neriidae;
  • paternal effects;
  • sexual selection;
  • Telostylinus angusticollis


It is widely recognized that maternal phenotype can have important effects on offspring, but paternal phenotype is generally assumed to have no influence in animals lacking paternal care. Nonetheless, selection may favour the transfer of environmentally acquired condition to offspring from both parents. Using a split-brood, cross-generational laboratory design, we manipulated a key environmental determinant of condition – larval diet quality – of parents and their offspring in the fly Telostylinus angusticollis, in which there is no evidence of paternal provisioning. Parental diet did not affect offspring survival, but high-condition mothers produced larger eggs, and their offspring developed more rapidly when on a poor larval diet. Maternal condition had no effect on adult body size of offspring. By contrast, large, high-condition fathers produced larger offspring, and follow-up assays showed that this paternal effect can be sufficient to increase mating success of male offspring and fecundity of female offspring. Our findings suggest that both mothers and fathers transfer their condition to offspring, but with effects on different offspring traits. Moreover, our results suggest that paternal effects can be important even in species lacking conventional forms of paternal care. In such species, the transfer of paternal condition to offspring could contribute to indirect selection on female mate preferences.