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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 459:73-83 (2012)  -  DOI:

Offspring size and maternal environments mediate the early juvenile performance of two congeneric whelks

Sergio A. Carrasco1,*, Nicole E. Phillips1, Alejandro Pérez-Matus2

1School of Biological Sciences and Coastal Ecology Laboratory, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington 6140, New Zealand
2Laboratorio de Ecología Marina, Facultad de Ciencias del Mar y de Recursos Naturales, Universidad de Valparaíso, Casilla 5080, Avenida Borgoño 16344, Viña del Mar, Chile

ABSTRACT: Offspring size variation can have pervasive ecological and evolutionary implications for both offspring and mother, affecting an organism’s performance throughout its life. Using 2 marine intertidal whelk species Cominella virgata and C. maculosa as model organisms, we examined how different maternal environments and contrasting hatchling size influence juvenile performance. The average size of field-collected hatchlings greatly differed between the species and at different scales of variation (i.e. among sites). Species-specific differences in hatching size were reflected in juvenile performance. Overall, C. virgata with larger hatchlings (~3 mm), exhibited faster growth rates and higher survival than the smaller C. maculosa (~1.5 mm). Desiccation treatment did not affect the performance of fed juveniles; however, large hatchlings had higher growth rates than small conspecifics for both species. Starved hatchlings of both species performed more poorly than fed ones; however, species-specific and size differences were less significant for the evaluated traits, suggesting a non-size-related allocation of resources and similar resource utilization during starvation conditions (i.e. within species). As has been described for many taxa, large offspring often perform better than small conspecifics; however, because this performance is likely context-dependent, understanding the importance of different scales of variation is crucial for determining when variation in size is an advantage or a disadvantage in terms of an organism’s performance.

KEY WORDS: Progeny size · Reproductive strategies · Environmental variation · Phenotypic plasticity · Offspring size-fitness · Cominella

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Cite this article as: Carrasco SA, Phillips NE, Pérez-Matus A (2012) Offspring size and maternal environments mediate the early juvenile performance of two congeneric whelks. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 459:73-83.

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