The German cockroach (Blattella germanica L.) is an excellent model omnivore for studying the effect of foraging effort on nutrient balancing behavior and physiology, and its consequences for performance. We investigated the effect of foraging distance on individual German cockroaches by providing two foods differing in protein-to-carbohydrate ratio at opposite ends of long containers or adjacent to each other in short containers. Each food was nutritionally imbalanced, but the two foods were nutritionally complementary, allowing optimal foraging by selective feeding from both foods. We measured nutrient-specific consumption in fifth instar nymphs and newly eclosed females foraging at the two distances, hypothesizing that individuals foraging over longer distance would select more carbohydrate-biased diets to compensate for the energetic cost of locomotion. We then determined dry mass growth and lipid accumulation in the nymphs as well as mass gain and the length of basal oocytes in the adult females as an estimate of sexual maturation. Nymphs foraging over longer distance accumulated less lipid relative to total dry mass growth, but contrary to our predictions their protein intake was higher and they accumulated more structural mass. In concordance, adult females foraging over longer distance gained more body mass and matured their oocytes faster. Our results show a positive effect of foraging distance on fitness-related parameters at two life stages, in both cases involving increased consumption of specific nutrients corresponding to requirements at the respective life stage.
- Received July 28, 2016.
- Accepted October 28, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd