Resource allocation in offspring provisioning: An evaluation of the conditions favoring the evolution of matrotrophy

American Naturalist
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Abstract

We used analytic and simulation models to determine the ecological conditions favoring evolution of a matrotrophic fish from a lecithotrophic ancestor given a complex set of trade‐offs. Matrotrophy is the nourishment of viviparous embryos by resources provided between fertilization and parturition, while lecithotrophy describes embryo nourishment provided before fertilization. In fishes and reptiles, embryo nourishment encompasses a continuum from solely lecithotrophic to primarily matrotrophic. Matrotrophy has evolved independently from lecithotrophic ancestors many times in many groups. We assumed matrotrophy increased the number of offspring a viviparous female could gestate and evaluated conditions of food availability favoring lecithotrophy or matrotrophy. The matrotrophic strategy was superior when food resources exceeded demand during gestation but at a risk of overproduction and reproductive failure if food intake was limited. Matrotrophic females were leaner during gestation than lecithotrophic females, yielding shorter life spans. Our models suggest that matrotrophic embryo nourishment evolved in environments with high food availability, consistently exceeding energy requirements for maintaining relatively large broods. Embryo abortion with some resorption of invested energy is a necessary preadaptation to the evolution of matrotrophy. Future work should explore trade‐offs of age‐specific mortality and reproductive output for females maintaining different levels of fat storage during gestation.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Resource allocation in offspring provisioning: An evaluation of the conditions favoring the evolution of matrotrophy
Series title American Naturalist
DOI 10.1086/378822
Volume 162
Issue 5
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher University of Chicago Press
Contributing office(s) Southeast Ecological Science Center
Description 12 p.
First page 574
Last page 585
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N