How maternal investment varies with environmental factors and the age and physiological state of wild tsetse Glossina pallidipes and Glossina morsitans morsitans

John W. Hargrove, M. Odwell Muzari, Sinead English

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

6 Citations (Scopus)
214 Downloads (Pure)


Theory suggests females should optimize resource allocation across reproductive bouts to maximize lifetime reproduction, balancing current and future reproductive efforts according to physiological state and projected survival and reproduction. Tests of these ideas focus on long-lived vertebrates: few measure age-related reproductive output in iteroparous invertebrates, or partition reserves between those allocated to offspring versus mothers. We investigated how maternal age, and environmental and physiological factors influence reproductive investment in wild tsetse, Glossina pallidipes Austen and G. morsitans morsitans Westwood. Tsetse provide a tractable system to measure reproductive allocation. Females exhibit high maternal investment, producing single, large offspring that rely exclusively on maternal reserves. We find that mothers in better physiological condition and experiencing cooler temperatures produce larger offspring. Pupal size increases significantly but weakly with age. In both species, females with less fat invest proportionately more in offspring. Post-partum fat decreases in flies with badly frayed wings: poor flight capability may limit their feeding efficiency, or they may sacrifice more reserves as a terminal investment. Our results support evidence that offspring size increases with maternal size, investment depends on the environment, and females with lower chances of future reproduction invest more into current offspring. We discuss the implications of maternal effects for predicting vector population responses to environmental change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171739
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018



  • Glossina pallidipes
  • maternal effects
  • nutrition
  • pregnancytsetse
  • trade-offs

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