May 4, 2006

Context-dependent intergenerational effects: the interaction between past and present environments and its effect on population dynamics

The American Naturalist
Stewart J PlaistowT G Benton

Abstract

Intergenerational effects arise when parents' actions influence the reproduction and survival of their offspring and possibly later descendants. Models suggest that intergenerational effects have important implications for both population dynamical patterns and the evolution of life-history traits. However, these will depend on the nature and duration of intergenerational effects. Here we show that manipulating parental food environments of soil mites produced intergenerational effects that were still detectable in the life histories of descendents three generations later. Intergenerational effects varied in different environments and from one generation to the next. In low-food environments, variation in egg size altered a trade-off between age and size at maturity and had little effect on the size of eggs produced in subsequent generations. Consequently, intergenerational effects decreased over time. In contrast, in high-food environments, variation in egg size predominantly influenced a trade-off between fecundity and adult survival and generated increasing variation in egg size. As a result, the persistence and significance of intergenerational effects varied between high- and low-food environments. Context-dependent interg...Continue Reading

Mentioned in this Paper

Fertility
Ovum
Mites
Reproduction
Impacts, Environmental
Family acaridae
Manipulating Function
Neomalthusianism
EAF2 gene
Feeding Patterns

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