Using lines artificially selected on egg size and being subjected to a restricted and an unrestricted feeding treatment, we examined the relationships between egg size, egg number, egg composition, and reproductive investment in the butterfly Bicyclus anynana. Despite a successful manipulation of egg size, correlated responses to selection in larval time, pupal mass, pupal time, longevity, fecundity, or the amount of energy allocated to reproduction were virtually absent. Thus, there was no indication for an evolutionary link between offspring size and reproductive investment. Egg composition, in contrast, was affected by selection, with larger eggs containing relatively more lipid and water, but less protein and energy compared to smaller eggs. Hence, females producing large eggs did not have to sacrifice fecundity due to adjustments in egg composition. Food limitation per se caused only minor changes in egg composition, and there was no general reduction in egg provisioning with female age. The latter was restricted to food-limited females, whereas egg quality remained remarkably similar throughout the females’ life in control groups. We conclude that neglecting changes in biochemical egg composition, depending on genetic background, food availability, and female age, may introduce substantial error when estimating reproductive effort, and may ultimately lead to invalid conclusions. © 2007 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2007, 91, 403–418.
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