Offspring size effects in the marine environment: A field test for a colonial invertebrate

Dustin John Marshall, Michael James Keough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


A central tenet of life-history theory is the presence of a trade-off between the size and number of offspring that a female can produce for a given clutch. A crucial assumption of this trade-off is that larger offspring perform better than smaller offspring. Despite the importance of this assumption empirical, field-based tests are rare, especially for marine organisms. We tested this assumption for the marine invertebrate, Diplosoma listerianum, a colonial ascidian that commonly occurs in temperate marine communities. Colonies that came from larger larvae had larger feeding structures than colonies that came from smaller larvae. Colonies that came from larger larvae also had higher survival and growth after 2 weeks in the field than colonies that came from smaller larvae. However, after 3 weeks in the field the colonies began to fragment and we could not detect an effect of larval size. We suggest that offspring size can have strong effects on the initial recruitment of D. listerianum but because of th tendency of this species to fragment, offspring size effects are less persistent in this species than in others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-280
Number of pages6
JournalAustral Ecology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2005


  • Carry-over effects
  • Egg size
  • Maternal effect

Cite this