Abstract

Relationships between egg size and juvenile survival in brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis, were determined experimentally at two levels of food abundance and then incorporated into a model that related maternal fitness to egg size and food supply. Egg volume was positively correlated with juvenile size at hatching and size at yolk sac resorption but had no significant effect on embryonic survival or development time. Juvenile survival was linearly related to egg size throughout the first 50 days of exogenous feeding at high and low food levels. The effects of egg size and food abundance on juvenile survival were not additive. Decreased food abundance significantly increased mortality among the smallest eggs but had a negligible effect on the largest eggs. Model simulations indicate that maternal fitness is a curvilinear function of egg size and that food supply influences both the height and the shape of the function. The fitness functions provide empirical support for the hypothesis that selection favors an increase in offspring size with reductions in resource abundance.

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