Temporal variation in reproductive allocation in a shield bug Elasmostethus interstinctus



We investigated changes in the reproductive output and the effect of female phenotype on reproductive parameters in a shield bug Elasmostethus interstinctus (L.) (Heteroptera: Acanthosomatidae) over the whole reproductive period. At the beginning and the middle of the reproductive period eggs were smaller than at the end of the period. Clutch mass and number of eggs per clutch decreased in laying sequence, first clutches being much larger than any of the later ones. Lifetime fecundity correlated positively with female size: large females produced more eggs and lived longer than small ones. Egg size did not vary with female size. Offspring survival until adulthood increased with egg weight. Individuals overwinter before reproduction, and because the nymphs from later-laid eggs have the least time to gather resources before overwintering, it may be important for later-laid eggs to be of high quality. Reproductive allocation varies during the reproductive period; females allocate resources relatively more to offspring number at the beginning of the reproductive period and more to offspring quality at the end of their life.