Disentangling determinants of egg size in the Geometridae (Lepidoptera) using an advanced phylogenetic comparative method



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Erratum Volume 26, Issue 6, 1379, Article first published online: 10 June 2013

Robert B. Davis, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Vanemuise 46, EE-51014 Tartu, Estonia.
Tel.: +372 7375838; fax: +372 7375830; e-mail: davis@ut.ee


We present a phylogenetic comparative study assessing the evolutionary determinants of egg size in the moth family Geometridae. These moths were found to show a strong negative allometric relationship between egg size and maternal body size. Using recently developed comparative methods based on an Ornstein-Uhlenbeck process, we show that maternal body size explains over half the variation in egg size. However, other determinants are less clear: ecological factors, previously hypothesized to affect egg size, were not found to have a considerable influence in the Geometridae. The limited role of such third factors suggests a direct causal link between egg size and body size rather than an indirect correlation mediated by some ecological factors. Notably, no large geometrid species lay small eggs. This pattern suggests that maternal body size poses a physical constraint on egg size, but within these limits, there appears to be a rather invariable selection for larger eggs.