Behaviour 2019
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A Short Period of Nutritional Deprivation Has Long-Term Effects on Reproductive Success
Daniela Wilner, Ginny Greenway, Lauren A. Cirino, Christine W. Miller. University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States

Many animals spend part of their lives hungry, but good conditions often return. Can a brief interlude of deprivation have life-long fitness effects, in spite of good nutrition returning? We manipulated diet briefly during sexual maturation in previously well-fed, female insects (Narnia femorata). After two weeks of diet manipulation, all females returned to good nutrition and received a male for mating. We observed initial receptivity to mating, and we quantified long-term fertility (hatched eggs produced over 32 days). As expected, female fertility was compromised by previous deprivation. Specifically, females were more likely to fail to produce any offspring if they had previously suffered deprivation. We conclude that even a brief period of hunger can have lasting impacts on individuals’ fitness.