Direct and trans-generational responses to food deprivation during development in the Glanville fritillary butterfly

Oecologia. 2013 Jan;171(1):93-104. doi: 10.1007/s00442-012-2412-y. Epub 2012 Jul 20.


Life history characteristics and resulting fitness consequences manifest not only in an individual experiencing environmental conditions but also in its offspring via trans-generational effects. We conducted a set of experiments to assess the direct and trans-generational effects of food deprivation in the Glanville fritillary butterfly Melitaea cinxia. Food availability was manipulated during the final stages of larval development and performance was assessed during two generations. Direct responses to food deprivation were relatively minor. Food-deprived individuals compensated, via increased development time, to reach a similar mass as adults from the control group. Delayed costs of compensatory growth were observed, as food-deprived individuals had either reduced fecundity or lifespan depending on the type of feeding treatment they had experienced (intermittent vs. continuous). Female food deprivation did not directly affect her offspring's developmental trajectory, but the way the offspring coped with food deprivation. Offspring of mothers from control or intermittent starvation treatments reached the size of those in the control group via increased development time when being starved. In contrast, offspring of mothers that had experienced 2 days of continuous food deprivation grew even larger than control animals, when deprived of food themselves. Offspring of food-deprived Glanville fritillary initially showed poor immune response to parasitism, but not later on in development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Size
  • Butterflies / growth & development*
  • Butterflies / parasitology
  • Food Deprivation / physiology*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Larva / growth & development