Authors: Amanda K Pettersen, Craig R White, Robert J Bryson‐Richardson, and Dustin J Marshall
Published in: Ecology Letters
Temperature often affects maternal investment in offspring. Across and within species, mothers in colder environments generally produce larger offspring than mothers in warmer environments, but the underlying drivers of this relationship remain unresolved.
We formally evaluated the ubiquity of the temperature–offspring size relationship and found strong support for a negative relationship across a wide variety of ectotherms. We then tested an explanation for this relationship that formally links life‐history and metabolic theories. We estimated the costs of development across temperatures using a series of laboratory experiments on model organisms, and a meta‐analysis across 72 species of ectotherms spanning five phyla.
We found that both metabolic and developmental rates increase with temperature, but developmental rate is more temperature sensitive than metabolic rate, such that the overall costs of development decrease with temperature. Hence, within a species’ natural temperature range, development at relatively cooler temperatures requires mothers to produce larger, better provisioned offspring.