Organismal body size is an important biological trait that has broad impacts across scales of biological organization, from cells to ecosystems. Size is also deeply embedded in life history theory, as the size of an individual is one factor that governs the amount of available resources an individual is able to allocate to different structures and systems. A large body of work examining resource allocation across body sizes (allometry) has demonstrated patterns of allocation to different organismal systems and morphologies, and extrapolated rules governing biological structure and organization. However, the full scope of evolutionary and ecological ramifications of these patterns have yet to be realized. Here, we show that density-dependent larval competition in a natural population of insect parasitoids (Drino rhoeo: Tachinidae) results in a wide range of body sizes (largest flies are more than six times larger (by mass) than the smallest flies). We describe strong patterns of trade-offs between different body structures linked to dispersal and reproduction that point to life history strategies that differ between both males and females and individuals of different sizes. By better understanding the mechanisms that generate natural variation in body size and subsequent effects on the evolution of life history strategies, we gain better insight into the evolutionary and ecological impacts of insect parasitoids in tri-trophic systems.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)