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Resource availability as a proxy for terminal investment in a beetle


Terminal investment hypothesis is a longstanding theoretical idea that organisms should increase their reproductive effort as their prospects for survival and reproduction decline. However, numerous attempts to test the terminal investment in reproduction have yielded contradictory results. This study reports an experimental confirmation of the terminal investment hypothesis. It was predicted that immune-challenged yellow mealworm beetles (Tenebrio molitor) are more likely to follow terminal investment strategy when their food resources are limited. Our results suggest the key role of food resources while making decisions to follow a terminal investment strategy. We found that male individuals invested in their sexual attractiveness at the expense of immune response and survival when food was not available. In contrast, the beetles did not decrease their lifespan and did not invest in the attractiveness of their sex odours under conditions of food ad libitum. Our results show the importance of food availability and quality in understanding the evolution of reproductive strategies.

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The study was supported by the Academy of Finland (I.K. and M.J.R.), and by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia and the Science Council of Latvia (I.K. and T.K.). We thank Inese Kivleniece for help in rearing the insects.

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Correspondence to Indrikis A. Krams.

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Communicated by A. Brandl.

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Krams, I.A., Krama, T., Moore, F.R. et al. Resource availability as a proxy for terminal investment in a beetle. Oecologia 178, 339–345 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-014-3210-5

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  • Reproduction
  • Terminal investment
  • Resources
  • Sexual attractiveness
  • Tenebrio molitor