Initial offspring size mediates trade-off between fecundity and longevity in the field

Authors: Halil Kesselring, Rebecca Wheatley and Dustin J Marshall

Published in: Marine Ecology Progress Series, volume 465, doi: 10.3354/meps09865


An understanding of the effects of intraspecific variation in offspring size is important from both an ecological and an evolutionary perspective.

While the relationship between off- spring size and overall offspring performance is key, most studies are restricted to examination of the effects of offspring size on early life-history stages only, and too few have examined the effects of offspring size throughout the life history.

Here, we examine the effects of offspring size on post- metamorphic survival, growth, and fecundity under field conditions for the polychaete Janua sp.

Larger offspring became larger adults and had higher levels of fecundity than those from smaller offspring, though the effect on fecundity was weaker and more variable over different experimental runs. Adults derived from larger larvae had shorter lifespans than adults derived from smaller larvae.

Our results suggest that the maternal effect of offspring size can influence the frequently observed trade-off between longevity and fecundity.

Future studies should seek to measure the effects of offspring size over as much of the life history as possible in order to avoid misestimating the relationship between offspring size and fitness.

Full paper

Kesselring H, Wheatley R, Marshall DJ (2012) Initial offspring size mediates trade-off between fecundity and longevity in the field. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 465: 129–136  email for a copy doi: 10.3354/meps09865

How do dispersal costs and habitat selection influence realized population connectivity?

Authors: Scott C Burgess, Eric A Treml and Dustin J Marshall

Published in: Ecology, volume 93, issue 6, doi: 10.1890/11-1656.1


Despite the importance of dispersal for population connectivity, dispersal is often costly to the individual.

A major impediment to understanding connectivity has been a lack of data combining the movement of individuals and their survival to reproduction in the new habitat (realized connectivity).

Although mortality often occurs during dispersal (an immediate cost), in many organisms costs are paid after dispersal (deferred costs). It is unclear how such deferred costs influence the mismatch between dispersal and realized connectivity.

Through a series of experiments in the field and laboratory, we estimated both direct and indirect deferred costs in a marine bryozoan (Bugula neritina). We then used the empirical data to parameterize a theoretical model in order to formalize predictions about how dispersal costs influence realized connectivity.

Individuals were more likely to colonize poor-quality habitat after prolonged dispersal durations. Individuals that colonized poor-quality habitat performed poorly after colonization because of some property of the habitat (an indirect deferred cost) rather than from prolonged dispersal per se (a direct deferred cost).

Our theoretical model predicted that indirect deferred costs could result in nonlinear mismatches between spatial patterns of potential and realized connectivity.

The deferred costs of dispersal are likely to be crucial for determining how well patterns of dispersal reflect realized connectivity. Ignoring these deferred costs could lead to inaccurate predictions of spatial population dynamics.

Full paper

Burgess SC, Treml EA, Marshall DJ (2012) How do dispersal costs and habitat selection influence realized population connectivity? Ecology 93: 1378–1387 PDFPDF 622 KB doi: 10.1890/11-1656.1