To test relationships between maternal size, egg size and size of new offspring, we studied (a) the effect of maternal size on egg size and number, and maternal survival after oviposition and (b) the effect of egg size on the duration of development and new imago size in three flea species (Xenopsylla ramesis, Synosternus cleopatrae, Parapulex chephrenis) with varying host and habitat specificity. In general, the number and size of eggs as well as total egg volume appeared to be independent of maternal body size. There was no trade-off between egg number and size. However, female body size was related to post-oviposition survival, with larger females surviving longer after oviposition than smaller females. In addition, females that produced more eggs died faster after oviposition in X. ramesis but not in the two other species. There were no significant size differences between eggs that developed into new imagoes and eggs that did not survive. Survivorship of male and female eggs did not differ; however, new adult females were significantly larger than new adult males. Female, but not male, new imagoes exhibited a significant positive relationship between egg size and duration of preimaginal development in all three species, with larger eggs developing faster than smaller eggs. In X. ramesis and S. cleopatrae, faster developing eggs also developed into larger new imagoes. We conclude that these patterns were largely consistent among the three flea species, suggesting that they result from the same mechanisms and are weakly affected by the ecological specialization of a given species.
The authors declare no competing or financial interests.
B.R.K., I.S.K. and D.K. conceived and designed the experiments, D.K. conducted the experiments, B.R.K. and E.M.W. analysed the data, all authors drafted the paper.
This study was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 26/12 to B.R.K. and I.S.K.). D.K. received financial support from the Blaustein Center for Scientific Cooperation. E.M.W. received financial support from the United States-Israel Educational Foundation (USIEF; Fulbright Post-Doctoral Fellowship) and the Swiss Institute for Dryland Environmental and Energy Research.
- Received March 5, 2016.
- Accepted May 22, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd