Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Poor start in life need not spell doom in adulthood

Date:
October 21, 2010
Source:
University of California -- Riverside
Summary:
A biology graduate student reports that how individuals fare as adults is not simply a passive consequence of the limits that early conditions may impose on them. Studying how adult Trinidadian guppies responded to their early food conditions, researchers found that the guppies had compensated for a poor start to life in unexpected, and potentially adaptive, ways by being flexible in their growth and reproductive strategies.

Sonya Auer, a graduate student in UCR's Department of Biology, researches guppies in the lab.
Credit: Ronald Bassar

Does the environment encountered early in life have permanent and predictable long-term effects in adulthood? Such effects have been reported in numerous organisms, including humans.

Related Articles


But now a biology graduate student at the University of California, Riverside reports that how individuals fare as adults is not simply a passive consequence of the limits that early conditions may impose on them. Studying how adult Trinidadian guppies (small freshwater fish) responded to their early food conditions, Sonya Auer found that the guppies had compensated for a poor start to life in unexpected, and potentially adaptive, ways.

"Adult guppies were able to mitigate the potential negative effects of early setbacks, such as poor conditions during early stages of growth and development, by being flexible in their growth and reproductive strategies," said Auer, who works in the laboratory of David Reznick, a professor of biology.

Study results appear in the December 2010 issue of The American Naturalist.

To study how adult guppies responded to early food conditions, Auer raised two batches of juvenile guppies separately on low and high food levels in the lab. Once they reached sexual maturity, she switched half of the females from each juvenile food level to the opposite adult food level and kept the other half on the same ration trajectory received during the juvenile stage.

She then measured adult responses in somatic growth, reproductive rate, reproductive investment, number of offspring, offspring size and female body condition to juvenile growth history, how these responses changed with age and how they affected overall reproductive success under low and high adult food conditions.

She found that, as predicted, females reared as juveniles on low food matured at a later age, at a smaller size and with less energy reserves than females reared on high food as juveniles.

"Entering adulthood, they were subsequently limited in the amount of time they had to produce babies, the number of babies they could carry at one time, and the amount of energy they could invest in reproduction," she said. "However, females reared on low food were able to replenish their fat reserves, increase their growth rate to make up for their small body size, and produce more babies to compensate for their delayed maturity. The end result was that they were able to achieve the same reproductive success as females reared on high food, regardless of the quality of the adult environment."

Next, Auer plans to study how guppy growth and reproductive strategies respond to seasonal variation in food availability in the wild.

Female guppies used in the experiment were the offspring of first generation descendents of fish collected in 2008 from a downstream, high predation site on the Aripo River in the Northern Range Mountains of Trinidad.

The research was supported by a University of California Dissertation Research grant and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to Auer, and a National Science Foundation grant to Reznick.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California -- Riverside. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sonya Auer. Phenotypic Plasticity in Adult Life History Strategies Compensates for a Poor Start in Life in Trinidadian Guppies (Poecilia reticulata). he American Naturalist, December 2010

Cite This Page:

University of California -- Riverside. "Poor start in life need not spell doom in adulthood." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101021113014.htm>.
University of California -- Riverside. (2010, October 21). Poor start in life need not spell doom in adulthood. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101021113014.htm
University of California -- Riverside. "Poor start in life need not spell doom in adulthood." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101021113014.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins