Offspring size is a fundamental trait in disparate biological fields of study. This trait can be measured as the size of plant seeds, animal eggs, or live young, and it influences ecological interactions, organism fitness, maternal investment, and embryonic development. Although multiple evolutionary processes have been predicted to drive the evolution of offspring size, the phylogenetic distribution of this trait remains poorly understood, due to the difficulty of reliably collecting and comparing offspring size data from many species. Here we present a dataset of 10,449 morphological descriptions of insect eggs, with records for 6,706 unique insect species and representatives from every extant hexapod order. The dataset includes eggs whose volumes span more than eight orders of magnitude. We created this dataset by partially automating the extraction of egg traits from the primary literature. In the process, we overcame challenges associated with large-scale phenotyping by designing and employing custom bioinformatic solutions to common problems. We matched the taxa in this dataset to the currently accepted scientific names in taxonomic and genetic databases, which will facilitate the use of these data for testing pressing evolutionary hypotheses in offspring size evolution.
Church, Samuel HDonoughe, Sethde Medeiros, Bruno A SExtavour, Cassandra GengDGE1745303/National Science Foundation (NSF)/InternationalResearch Support, Non-U.S. Gov'tEnglandSci Data. 2019 Jul 3;6(1):104. doi: 10.1038/s41597-019-0049-y.