Letter | Published:

Partial bivoltinism may cause alternating sex-ratio biases that favour eusociality

Nature volume 301, pages 5962 (06 January 1983) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Fisher1showed that frequency-dependent selection will stabilize balanced sex ratios of parental investment2, under a wide range of mating systems and patterns of mortality. But many actual ratios of investment are biased. Some of these can be explained by models3–14in which the life history lacks certain kinds of symmetry that are present in Fisher's model. For example, where brothers compete directly for matings, female biases are expected and found3,9. Here I describe a model for the evolution of sex ratios in species having two generations per year with an asymmetrical pattern of overlap between the generations. Many insects have partially bivoltine life histories of this kind. Two predictions emerge from an analysis of the model. First, one of the two generations produced each season will be female-biased, and the other will be male-biased. Second, eusociality will arise more often in haplodiploid species that overwinter as inseminated females than it will in those that overwinter as larvae or as unmated adults. Data on the sex ratios of bivoltine solitary Hymenoptera and on the phylogenetic distribution of eusociality are consistent with these predictions. Thus the model shows one particular way in which ecological and genetic variables may interact to encourage the evolution of eusociality in some species and to discourage it in others.

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Author notes

    • Jon Seger

    Present address: Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA

Affiliations

  1. Population Biology Group, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QG, UK

    • Jon Seger

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https://doi.org/10.1038/301059a0

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