The effect of diet quality on physiological and life-history traits in the harvestman Pachylus paessleri

Daniel E. Naya, Marco A. Lardies, Francisco Bozinovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The balance between energy acquisition and expenditure is critical to the survival and reproductive success of animals. Here we investigate the long-term effects of diet quality on physiological and life-history flexibility in the harvestman, Pachylus paessleri. We used cow meal as a protein-rich diet and potatoes as a carbohydrate-rich diet in order to reproduce two extreme conditions regarding food quality in harvestmen natural habitat. As proxy variables of the energy expenditure process, we quantified standard metabolic rate (maintenance), changes in body mass (somatic condition), and fecundity (reproduction). We found that animals consuming the protein-rich diet were able to increase both their body condition and fecundity. However, the increment in these two life-history traits was correlated with higher maintenance costs. In contrast, the carbohydrate-rich diet did not provide enough specific nutrients for reproductive events, although it may have allowed animals to survive for a long time. Thus, according to the quality of the diet available in the environment, harvestman females can adopt different life-history strategies correlated with phenotypic adjustments at anatomical and physiological levels. In the Mediterranean region, spatial and temporal changes in food quality are typical, so greater phenotypic flexibility is expected to cope with this kind of environmental variation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-138
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Fecundity
  • Food quality
  • Metabolic rate
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Somatic condition


Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of diet quality on physiological and life-history traits in the harvestman Pachylus paessleri'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this