Complex life cycles and offspring provisioning in marine invertebrates

Dustin J. Marshall, Michael J. Keough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Offspring size can have pervasive effects throughout an organism's life history. Mothers can make either a few large or many small offspring, and the balance between these extremes is determined by the relationship between offspring size and performance. This relationship in turn is thought to be determined by the offspring's environment. Recently, it has become clear that events in one life-history stage can strongly affect performance in another. Given these strong carryover effects, we asked whether events in the larval phase can change the relationship between offspring size and performance in the adult phase. We manipulated the length of the larval period in the bryozoan Bugula neritina and then examined the relationship between offspring size and various parameters of adult performance under field conditions. We found that despite the adult stage being outplanted into identical conditions, different offspring sizes were predicted to be optimal, depending on the experience of those adults as larvae. This work highlights the fact that the strong phenotypic links between life-history stages may result in optimal offspring size being highly unpredictable for organisms with complex life cycles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-651
Number of pages9
JournalIntegrative and Comparative Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2006

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