STOCHASTICITY IN REPRODUCTIVE OPPORTUNITY AND THE EVOLUTION OF EGG LIMITATION IN INSECTS

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Abstract

Is reproduction by adult female insects limited by the finite time available to locate hosts (time limitation) or by the finite supply of eggs (egg limitation)? An influential model predicted that stochasticity in reproductive opportunity favors elevated fecundity, rendering egg limitation sufficiently rare that its importance would be greatly diminished. Here, I use models to explore how stochasticity shapes fecundity, the likelihood of egg limitation, and the ecological importance of egg limitation. The models make three predictions. First, whereas spatially stochastic environments favor increased fecundity, temporally stochastic environments favor increases, decreases, or intermediate maxima in fecundity, depending on egg costs. Second, even when spatially or temporally stochastic environments favor life histories with less-frequent egg limitation, stochasticity still increases the proportion of all eggs laid in the population that is laid by females destined to become egg limited. This counterintuitive result is explained by noting that stochasticity concentrates reproduction in the hands of a few females that are likely to become egg limited. Third, spatially or temporally stochastic environments amplify the constraints imposed by time and eggs on total reproduction by the population. I conclude that both egg and time constraints are fundamental in shaping insect reproductive behavior and population dynamics in stochastic environments.

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