Maternal effects on offspring size and packaging constraints in the whelk

S. Nasution, David Roberts, Keith Farnsworth, John Parker, Robert Elwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Life-history theory predicts an optimal offspring size, irrespective of reproductive effort; however, in some species offspring size correlates positively with maternal size. We examine hypotheses for why this latter situation should occur in the whelk Buccinum undatum. The trade-offs between aspects of reproduction in whelks are complicated due to the provision of protective egg capsules. Many eggs are placed within each capsule but c. 99% of these eggs are consumed by the remaining developing young. Large maternal size results in more eggs, larger eggs, more eggs consumed per hatchling, more capsules, larger capsules, more eggs per capsule, a larger number of hatchlings per capsule and larger hatchlings. Increased intra-capsule and post-hatch sibling competition may decrease the marginal value for additional young and select for larger young, however, our data do not support this explanation. Instead, packaging constraints within each capsule limit the size of hatchlings but this constraint is relaxed for medium to large females because they produce large capsules. Small females appear to produce young below optimum size because of the space constraint thus explaining the correlation between maternal size and offspring size.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-117
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Zoology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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