University of Oulu

Kivelä, SM, Davis, RB, Esperk, T, et al. Comparative analysis of larval growth in Lepidoptera reveals instar‐level constraints. Funct Ecol. 2020; 34: 1391–1403.

Comparative analysis of larval growth in Lepidoptera reveals instar‐level constraints

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Author: Kivelä, Sami M.1; Davis, Robert B.1; Esperk, Toomas1;
Organizations: 1Department of Zoology, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
2Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
3Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-08-13


1. Juvenile growth trajectories evolve via the interplay of selective pressures on age and size at maturity, and developmental constraints. In insects, the moulting cycle is a major constraint on larval growth trajectories.

2. Surface area to volume ratio of a larva decreases during growth, so renewal of certain surfaces by moulting is likely needed for the maintenance of physiological efficiency. A null hypothesis of isometry, implied by Dyar’s Rule, would mean that the relative measures of growth remain constant across moults and instars.

3. We studied ontogenetic changes and allometry in instar‐specific characteristics of larval growth in 30 lepidopteran species in a phylogenetic comparative framework.

4. Relative instar‐specific mass increments (RMI) typically, but not invariably, decreased across instars. Ontogenetic change in RMIs varied among families with little within‐family variation. End‐of‐instar growth deceleration (GD) became stronger with increasing body size across instars. Across‐instar change in GD was conserved across taxa. Ontogenetic allometry was generally non‐isometric in both RMI and GD.

5. Results indicate that detailed studies on multiple species are needed for generalizations concerning growth trajectory evolution. Developmental and physiological mechanisms affecting growth trajectory evolution show different degrees of evolutionary conservatism, which must be incorporated into models of age and size at maturation.

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Series: Functional ecology
ISSN: 0269-8463
ISSN-E: 1365-2435
ISSN-L: 0269-8463
Volume: 34
Pages: 1391 - 1403
DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.13556
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This study was financed by the Finnish Cultural Foundation (S.M.K.), the Emil Aaltonen Foundation (S.M.K.), the Estonian Research Council (PUT1474 to S.M.K.), the international fellowship program at Stockholm University (S.M.K.), Academy of Finland (grant nos. 314833 and 319898 to S.M.K., and grant no. 277984 to M.M.), institutional research funding IUT (IUT20‐33) from the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (R.B.D., D.V., T.E. and T.T.), the Bolin Centre for Climate Research at Stockholm University (K.G.) and the Swedish Research Council (grant VR 2017‐04500 to K.G.).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 277984
Detailed Information: 277984 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
314833 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
319898 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2020 The Authors. Functional Ecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.