Life histories vary widely among taxa, but within phylogenetic groups there may be a fundamental framework around which trait variation is organized, perhaps as a consequence of lineage-specific developmental constraints. In organisms with indeterminate growth, there is an ongoing problem of optimally allocating resources between growth and reproduction, and that allocation decision may manifest itself through allometric scaling. Previous work on freshwater zooplankton has shown that the ontogenetic pattern of resource allocation can be described by simple mathematical functions. An important component of understanding how such functions can explain life-history variation is to discover which parameters in these functions are robust, with respect to both resource availability and evolutionary diversification, and which parameters exhibit interspecific allometry. To shed light on these issues, detailed life table experiments were conducted on eight species in the family Daphniidae (Crustacea) at high and low levels of resources. Using data on growth, reproduction, and instar duration, the ontogeny of resource allocation to growth and reproduction could be described as functions that plateau at or shortly after the onset of maturity. To be sure that the results were not an artifact of phylogenetic structure, the parameters were tested in a phylogenetically controlled fashion. The results suggest a simple set of resource allocation rules for daphniids, whereby all species exhibit a similar form of ontogenetic change in allocation, and reach a plateau where approximately 94% of available resources are allocated to reproduction. The asymptotically maximal rate of net resources incorporated in growth and reproduction was positively related to size at maturity, whereas the rates of approach to plateaus (for both net resource assimilation and proportional allocation to reproduction) were negatively related to body size. Per-offspring investment was positively related to the square root of size at maturity. Using this approach, a wide range of interspecific variation in life-history features can be related to a single underlying trait, the size at first reproductive investment.
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Vol. 59 • No. 3