Body size can be an important factor controlling consumer stoichiometry. In holometabolous insects, body size is typically associated with nutrient storage. Consumer stoichiometry is known to vary within species across a range of body sizes; however, the contribution of nutrient storage to this variation is not well understood. We used the fifth-instar larvae of the oak weevil (Coleoptera: Curculio davidi Fairmaire), which is characterized by a high capacity for nutrient storage, to investigate the effect of shifts in nutrient storage with body mass on variations in larva stoichiometry. Our results showed that weevil larvae with larger body mass had a lower carbon (C) content, reflecting decreases in the sequestration rate of C-rich lipids. Larger larvae had elevated concentrations of nitrogen (N), sulfur (S), and protein. The similar patterns of variation in elemental composition and macromolecule storage with body weight indicate that the shift in nutrient storage is the main factor causing the variation in larval stoichiometry with body weight. This finding was further supported by the low variation in residual larval biomass C, N, and S concentrations after lipid extraction. These results help decipher the physiological mechanism of stoichiometric regulation in growing organisms.
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Vol. 15 • No. 1