Does interspecific competition affect offspring provisioning?

Dustin Marshall, Michael Keough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Offspring size is one of the most well-studied life-history traits, yet it is remarkable that few field studies have examined the manner in which the relationship between offspring size and performance (and thus, optimal offspring size) is affected by the local environment. Furthermore, while offspring size appears to be plastic in a range of organisms, few studies have linked changes in offspring size to changes in the relationship between offspring size and performance in the field. Interspecific competition is a major ecological force in both terrestrial and marine environments, but we have little understanding of its role in shaping selection on offspring size. Here we examine the effect of interspecific competition on the relationship between offspring size and performance in the field for the marine bryozoan Watersipora subtorquata along the south coast of Australia. Both interspeci. c competition and offspring size had strong effects on the post-metamorphic performance of offspring in the field, but importantly, they acted independently. While interspeci. c competition did not affect the offspring size-performance relationship, mothers experiencing competition still produced larger offspring than mothers that did not experience competition. Because larger offspring are more dispersive in this species, increasing offspring size may represent a maternal strategy whereby mothers produce more dispersive offspring when they experience high competition themselves. This study shows that, while offspring size is plastic in this species, post-metamorphic factors alone may not determine the size of offspring that mothers produce.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487 - 495
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

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