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Context‐Dependent Intergenerational Effects: The Interaction between Past and Present Environments and Its Effect on Population Dynamics

Stewart J. Plaistow, Craig T. Lapsley and Tim G. Benton
The American Naturalist
Vol. 167, No. 2 (February 2006), pp. 206-215
DOI: 10.1086/499380
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/499380
Page Count: 10
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Context‐Dependent Intergenerational Effects: The Interaction between Past and Present Environments and Its Effect on Population Dynamics
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Abstract

Abstract: Intergenerational effects arise when parents’ actions influence the reproduction and survival of their offspring and possibly later descendants. Models suggest that intergenerational effects have important implications for both population dynamical patterns and the evolution of life‐history traits. However, these will depend on the nature and duration of intergenerational effects. Here we show that manipulating parental food environments of soil mites produced intergenerational effects that were still detectable in the life histories of descendents three generations later. Intergenerational effects varied in different environments and from one generation to the next. In low‐food environments, variation in egg size altered a trade‐off between age and size at maturity and had little effect on the size of eggs produced in subsequent generations. Consequently, intergenerational effects decreased over time. In contrast, in high‐food environments, variation in egg size predominantly influenced a trade‐off between fecundity and adult survival and generated increasing variation in egg size. As a result, the persistence and significance of intergenerational effects varied between high‐ and low‐food environments. Context‐dependent intergenerational effects can therefore have complex but important effects on population dynamics.

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