Food Restriction Alters Energy Allocation Strategy During Growth in Tobacco Hornworms (Manduca Sexta Larvae)


Growing animals must alter their energy budget in the face of environmental changes and prioritize the energy allocation to metabolism for life-sustaining requirements and energy deposition in new biomass growth. We hypothesize that when food availability is low, larvae of holometabolic insects with a short development stage (relative to the low food availability period) prioritize biomass growth at the expense of metabolism. Driven by this hypothesis, we develop a simple theoretical model, based on conservation of energy and allometric scaling laws, for understanding the dynamic energy budget of growing larvae under food restriction. We test the hypothesis by manipulative experiments on fifth instar hornworms at three temperatures. At each temperature, food restriction increases the scaling power of growth rate but decreases that of metabolic rate, as predicted by the hypothesis. During the fifth instar, the energy budgets of larvae change dynamically. The free-feeding larvae slightly decrease the energy allocated to growth as body mass increases and increase the energy allocated to life sustaining. The opposite trends were observed in food restricted larvae, indicating the predicted prioritization in the energy budget under food restriction. We compare the energy budgets of a few endothermic and ectothermic species and discuss how different life histories lead to the differences in the energy budgets under food restriction.


Biological Sciences

Keywords and Phrases

Energy Budget; Food Restriction; Growth; Manduca Sexta; Scaling Law

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Document Type

Article - Journal

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© 2015 Springer Verlag, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Aug 2015

PubMed ID