SIZE-FECUNDITY RELATIONSHIPS, GROWTH TRAJECTORIES, AND THE TEMPERATURE-SIZE RULE FOR ECTOTHERMS

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Abstract

Many ectotherms show crossing growth trajectories as a plastic response to rearing temperature. As a result, individuals growing up in cool conditions grow slower, mature later, but are larger at maturation than those growing up in warm conditions. To date, no entirely satisfactory explanation has been found for why this pattern, often called the temperature-size rule, should exist. Previous theoretical models have assumed that size-specific mortality rates were most likely to drive the pattern. Here, I extend one theoretical model to show that variation in size-fecundity relationships may also be important. Plasticity in the size-fecundity relationship has rarely been considered, but a number of studies show that fecundity increases more quickly with size in cold environments than it does in warm environments. The greater increase in fecundity offsets costs of delayed maturation in cold environments, favoring a larger size at maturation. This can explain many cases of crossing growth trajectories, not just in relation to temperature.

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