Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Zachary R. Stahlschmidt

First Committee Member

Marcos Gridi-Papp

Second Committee Member

Ryan Hill


Animals must balance multiple, fitness-related traits in environments that are complex and characterized by co-varying factors, such as co-variation in temperature and food availability. Thus, experiments manipulating multiple environmental factors provide valuable insight into the role of the environment in shaping not only important traits (e.g., dispersal capacity or reproduction), but also trait-trait interactions (e.g., trade-offs between traits). We employed a multi-factorial design to manipulate variation in temperature (constant 28°C vs. 28±5°C daily cycle) and food availability (unlimited vs. intermittent access) throughout development in the sand field cricket, Gryllus firmus. We found that fitness-related, life-history traits and trait trade-offs can be developmentally plastic in response to variation in temperature and food availability. Variability in temperature and food availability influenced development, growth, body size, reproductive investment, and/or flight capacity, and food availability also affected survival to adulthood. Further, both constant temperature and unlimited food availability promoted investment into key components of somatic and reproductive tissues while reducing investment into flight capacity. We develop an experimental and statistical framework to reveal shifts in correlative patterns of investment into different life-history traits. This approach can be applied to a range of animal systems to investigate how environmental complexity influences traits and trait trade-offs.



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