The consequences of parental age for development, body mass and resistance to stress in the red flour beetle

Snir Halle, Anastasia Nowizki, Inon Scharf*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The performance of most animals deteriorates with age. Motivated by the inconsistency in the literature regarding the effect of parental age on offspring traits and performance, we studied how parental age affects offspring development time, body mass, and starvation and cold tolerance in the red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum). Offspring of old parents pupated later and at a higher body mass, and there was a general positive correlation between body mass and starvation tolerance. Despite their higher body mass, offspring of old parents tolerated starvation less well than those of young parents, emphasizing the impaired performance of the former. However, parental age did not affect offspring thermal tolerance and offspring of old parents were not more sensitive to cold shock than those of young parents. We also examined how ageing affects body mass and cold tolerance in the parental generations. By contrast to the effect of ontogeny on thermal tolerance, which is better known, change in thermal tolerance with age is seldom studied and can take different shapes. Old beetles were more sensitive to cold shock than younger beetles. Similar to cold tolerance, body mass decreased with age. In summary, older beetles reflect a worse physiological condition than younger ones. Ageing leads to impaired cold tolerance, lower body mass, lower number of offspring reaching adulthood, and deteriorated performance of the offspring, expressed as a lower starvation tolerance and a longer development time of the offspring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-314
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • Body size
  • Chill-coma recovery time
  • Lansing effect
  • Maternal effects
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Senescence
  • Tribolium castaneum


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