Nutritional variation across the lifetime can have significant and sex-specific impacts on fitness. Using Drosophila melanogaster , we measured these impacts by testing the effects on life span and reproductive success of high or low yeast content in developmental versus adult diets, separately for each sex. We tested two hypotheses: that dietary mismatches between development and adulthood are costly and that any such costs are sex-specific. Overall, the results revealed the rich and complex responses of each sex to dietary variation across the lifetime. Contrary to the first hypothesis, dietary mismatches between developmental and adult life stages were not universally costly. Where costs of nutritional variation across the life course did occur, they were sex-, context-, and trait-specific, consistent with hypothesis 2.
Worldwide variation in life-span sexual dimorphism and sex-specific environmental mortality rates.
Dietary restriction DR has been shown to increase life span in taxonomically diverse animal species. In this study we tested for sex differences in the response of life span to graded severity of DR in Drosophila melanogaster. In both sexes, life span peaked at an intermediate food concentration and declined on either side. However, the magnitude of the response and the food concentration that minimized adult mortality differed significantly between the sexes.
Life span differs between the sexes in many species. Three hypotheses to explain this interesting pattern have been proposed, involving different drivers: sexual selection, asymmetrical inheritance of cytoplasmic genomes, and hemizygosity of the X Z chromosome the unguarded X hypothesis. Of these, the unguarded X has received the least experimental attention.