Physiological costs of compensatory growth in a damselfly

Ecology. 2006 Jun;87(6):1566-74. doi: 10.1890/0012-9658(2006)87[1566:pcocgi];2.


Little is known about physiological costs of rapid growth. We successfully generated compensatory growth to time stress and transient food stress in the damselfly Lestes viridis and studied the physiological correlates of the resulting reduced ability to cope with starvation. We found evidence for both mechanisms proposed to underlie the physiological trade-off: compensatory growth was associated with (1) a higher metabolic rate, as indicated by a higher oxygen consumption and a faster depletion of energy storage molecules (glycogen and triglycerides), and (2) a smaller investment in energy storage. The former may also explain why storage molecules after emergence were negatively affected by time stress and food stress, despite the successful compensation before emergence. These deferred physiological costs of rapid growth have the potential to couple larval stresses to adult fitness irrespective of age and size at emergence, and they may partly explain why many animals do not show their maximum achievable growth rate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Food Deprivation
  • Insecta / growth & development*
  • Larva / growth & development
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Time Factors


  • Oxygen