Papers in the Biological Sciences


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Published in Oecologia 93:1 (February, 1993), pp. 121–127; doi 10.1007/BF00321201 Copyright © 1993 Springer Berlin/Heidelberg. Used by permission.


The cricket, Gryllus rubens (Orthoptera, Gryllidae), exists in natural populations as either a fully-winged (LW), flight-capable morph or as a short-winged (SW) morph that cannot fly. The SW morph is substantially more fecund than the LW morph. In this study we report on the physiological basis of this trade-off between flight capability and fecundity. Results from gravimetric feeding trials indicate that LW and SW morphs are equivalent in their consumption and digestion of food. However, during the adult stage, the LW morph is less efficient in converting assimilated nutrients into biomass. This may be a consequence of the respired loss of assimilated nutrients due to the maintenance of functional flight muscles in the LW morph. In both morphs the gross biomass devoted to flight muscles does not change significantly during the first 14 days of adult growth while there is a significant biomass gain in ovarian tissue mass during the same period. SW morphs have vestigial flight muscles and gain substantially more ovarian mass relative to the LW morphs. These data are consistent with a trade-off between flight muscle maintenance in the LW morph and ovarian growth in the SW form. This is the first evidence for a life-history trade-off that has a physiological basis which is limited to the allocation of acquired and assimilated nutrients within the organism.

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