The influence of maternal age and mating frequency on egg size and offspring performance in Callosobruchus maculatus (Coleoptera: Bruchidae)

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181 Scopus citations


Maternal age influences offspring quality of many species of insects. This observed maternal age influence on offspring performance may be mediated through maternal age effects on egg size, which in turn may be directly influenced by the female's nutritional state. Thus, behaviors that influence a female's nutritional status will indirectly influence egg size, and possibly offspring life histories. Because males provide nutrients to females in their ejaculate, female mating frequency is one behavior which may influence her nutritional status, and thus the size of her eggs and the performance of her offspring. In this paper, I first quantify the influences of maternal age on egg size and offspring performance of the bruchid beetle, Callosobruchus maculatus. I then examine whether nutrients transferred during copulation reduce the magnitude of maternal age effects on egg size and larval performance when mothers are nutrient-stressed. Egg size and egg hatchability decreased, and development time increased, with increasing maternal age. Multiple mating and adult feeding by females both resulted in increased egg size. This increase in egg size of females mated multiply did not translate into reduced development time or increased body size and egg hatchability, but did correlate with improved survivorship of offspring produced by old mothers. Thus, it appears that because the influence of mating frequency on egg size is small relative to the influence of maternal age, the influence of nutrients derived from multiple mating on offspring life history is almost undetectable (detected only as a small influence on survivorship). For C. maculatus, female multiple mating has been demonstrated to increase adult female survivorship (Fox 1993a), egg production (Credland and Wright 1989; Fox 1993a), egg size, and larval survivorship, but, contrary to the suggestion of Wasserman and Asami (1985), multiple mating had no detectable influence on offspring development time or body size.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-146
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1993


  • Life history
  • Maternal effects
  • Multiple mating
  • Nutrient-stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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