Sources of stochasticity in models of sex allocation in spatially structured populations

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Abstract

There are many ways to include stochastic effects in models of sex allocation evolution. These include variability in the number of mating partners and fecundity in a rich literature that goes back 20 years. The effects of variance in the fecundity and number of mating partners have typically been considered separately from the stochastic effects of mortality. However, I show that these processes produce mathematically equivalent models with subtly different biological details. These scenarios differ in the way that information becomes available to individuals because the parents often have information on mating partners while they are making sex allocation decisions, but must make these decisions before brood mortality takes place. This makes it possible to test which mechanism, stochastic mortality or variation in mating partners, is responsible for observed sex ratios. Alternatively, asymmetric variance between sexual functions can cause skewed sex allocation, even in the absence of local mate competition. This allows the evolution of either female- or male-biased sex ratios depending on which sexual function is more variable.

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