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Age and size at maturity: sex, environmental variability and developmental thresholds

Plaistow, S.J., Lapsley, C.T., Beckerman, A.P. and Benton, T.G. (2004) Age and size at maturity: sex, environmental variability and developmental thresholds. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 271 (1542). pp. 919-924. ISSN 1471-2954


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In most organisms, transitions between different life-history stages occur later and at smaller sizes as growth conditions deteriorate. Day and Rowe recently proposed that this pattern could be explained by the existence of developmental thresholds (minimum sizes or levels of condition below which transitions are unable to proceed). The developmental-threshold model predicts that the reaction norm of age and size at maturity will rotate in an anticlockwise manner from positive to a shallow negative slope if: (i) initial body size or condition is reduced; and/or (ii) some individuals encounter poor growth conditions at increasingly early developmental stages. We tested these predictions by rearing replicated populations of soil mites Sancassania berlesei (Michael) under different growth conditions. High-food environments produced a vertical relationship between age and size at maturity. The slope became increasingly shallow as food was reduced. By contrast, high food in the maternal environment reduced the slope of the reaction norm of age and size at maturity, whereas low food increased it. Overall, the reaction norm of age and size at maturity in S. berlesei was significantly nonlinear and differed for males and females. We describe how growth conditions, mother's environment and sex determine age and size at maturity in S. berlesei.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2004 The Royal Society
Keywords: age and size plasticity, developmental threshold, reaction norm, Sancassania berlesei, growth rate, maternal effect
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > School of Biological Sciences (Sheffield) > Department of Animal and Plant Sciences (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2006
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2014 17:53
Published Version: http://www.journals.royalsoc.ac.uk/openurl.asp?gen...
Status: Published
Publisher: The Royal Society
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1098/rspb.2004.2682
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1312

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