Bulletin of Mathematical Biology

, Volume 69, Issue 4, pp 1167–1198 | Cite as

Behavioural Interactions Selecting for Symmetry and Asymmetry in Sexual Reproductive Systems of Eusocial Species

  • Lars Witting
Original Article


Understanding the life-history complex of eusociality has remained an enduring problem in evolutionary ecology, partially because natural selection models have considered traits in relative isolation. I aim for a more inclusive model that uses ecological interactions to predict the evolutionary existence of sexual reproduction, sexual reproduction asymmetry, and sex ratios in eusocial species. Using a two-level selection process, with within-population selection on the sex ratio of the sexual caste and between-population selection on the worker sex ratio and the degree of sexual reproduction asymmetry, it is found that a male-haploid genome and a worker caste of pure females is the evolutionary optimum of most initial conditions when, like in eusocial hymenoptera, there is no pair bond between the sexual male and female. That a diploid genome and a worker caste with both males and females is the evolutionary optimum of most initial conditions when, like in eusocial termites, there is a pair bond. That sex-linked genomes may evolve in diploid eusocials, and that the model will not generally maintain sexual reproduction by itself. These results hold for ploidy-levels that behave as quantitative or discrete traits, over a relatively wide range of the relative investment in a sexual male versus sexual female, and for partial sexual systems where the genomic portion with diploid inheritance is either fixed or random.


Eusocial Sex ratio Sexual reproduction Sexual asymmetry Termites Hymenoptera Life-history 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Greenland Institute of Natural ResourcesNuukGreenland

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