With the aim of integrating the physiology and evolutionary ecology of Lymnaea stagnalis (Linnaeus, 1758), we studied the effects of day length and food availability on the energy budget. Snails were assigned to two different photoperiods and three levels of food availability. The snails were kept individually, and food consumption, growth, and egg production were measured for about 2 months. Snails could nearly compensate for a one-day starvation period by increasing the rate of food-intake. However, food-intake rates did not increase further after a starvation period of 2 days. Growth was well described by the Von Bertalanffy growth equation. The ultimate size of snails kept under medium-day conditions (MD; light:dark = 12:12 h) was not affected by food availability. By contrast, the ultimate size of snails kept under long-day conditions (LD; light:dark = 16:8 h) depended on food availability; those fed the lowest quantities grow the least. Dry-weight densities (dry weight/wet weight) of MD snails were considerably above those of LD snails. In MD snails, food availability did not appreciably affect dry-weight density. By contrast, in LD snails, dry-weight density decreased with decreasing food availability. The reproductive output of LD snails declined with declining food availability, but was 2 to 4 times that of MD snails. The difference in reproductive output was largely accounted for by the difference in stored energy, i.e. dry-weight density. To gauge the extent to which the conclusions from our laboratory work applied to free-living snails, a field study was conducted. The wild-caught snails' dry-weight density was also lowest in long-day conditions when most eggs were laid. However, the dry-weight densities during medium and short days were lower than the dry-weight densities of laboratory animals under LD conditions. Thus, in the field, snails stored less energy than in the laboratory.
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Vol. 23 • No. 1