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Resource allocation, hyperphagia and compensatory growth in juveniles

Gurney, W.S.C. and Jones, W. and Veitch, R. and Nisbet, R.M. (2003) Resource allocation, hyperphagia and compensatory growth in juveniles. Ecology, 84 (10). pp. 2777-2787. ISSN 0012-9658

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Many organisms exploit highly variable food supplies and, as an adaptation to such conditions, show elevated growth during recovery from starvation. In some species this response enables starved and re-fed individuals to outpace those growing continuously. The main engine of compensatory growth is a relative increase in food ingestion as a reaction to poor nutritional condition. We use a series of mathematical energy-budget models to investigate the interaction between the mechanisms that control such hyperphagia and those that control internal allocation, with the aim of identifying those strategies that permit overcompensation. We find that hyperphagia alone normally produces weak compensation and can never result in overcompensation. When combined with internal allocation, which routes a fixed fraction of net production to reserves, a strong compensatory response becomes the norm, and overcompensation is frequent.