Not all sex ratios are equal : the Fisher condition, parental care and sexual selection
Jennions, M. D., & Fromhage, L. (2017). Not all sex ratios are equal : the Fisher condition, parental care and sexual selection. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 372(1729), Article 20160312. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2016.0312
© 2017 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. This is a final draft version of an article whose final and definitive form has been published by Royal Society. Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.
The term ‘sex roles’ encapsulates male–female differences in mate searching, competitive traits that increase mating/fertilization opportunities, choosiness about mates and parental care. Theoretical models suggest that biased sex ratios drive the evolution of sex roles. To model sex role evolution, it is essential to note that in most sexually reproducing species (haplodiploid insects are an exception), each offspring has one father and one mother. Consequently, the total number of offspring produced by each sex is identical, so the mean number of offspring produced by individuals of each sex depends on the sex ratio (Fisher condition). Similarly, the total number of heterosexual matings is identical for each sex. On average, neither sex can mate nor breed more often when the sex ratio is even. But equally common in which sex ratio? The Fisher condition only applies to some reproductive measures (e.g. lifetime offspring production or matings) for certain sex ratios (e.g. operational or adult sex ratio; OSR, ASR). Here, we review recent models that clarify whether a biased OSR, ASR or sex ratio at maturation (MSR) have a causal or correlational relationship with the evolution of sex differences in parental care and competitive traits—two key components of sex roles. We suggest that it is more fruitful to understand the combined effect of the MSR and mortality rates while caring and competing than that of the ASR itself. In short, we argue that the ASR does not have a causal role in the evolution of parental care. We point out, however, that the ASR can be a cue for adaptive phenotypic plasticity in how each sex invests in parental care. This article is part of the themed issue ‘Adult sex ratios and reproductive decisions: a critical re-examination of sex differences in human and animal societies’. ...
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