Bulletin of Mathematical Biology

, Volume 79, Issue 9, pp 2132–2148 | Cite as

Modelling the Evolution of Traits in a Two-Sex Population, with an Application to Grandmothering

Original Article

Abstract

We present a mathematical simplification for the evolutionary dynamics of a heritable trait within a two-sex population. This trait is assumed to control the timing of sex-specific life-history events, such as the age of sexual maturity and end of female fertility, and each sex has a distinct fitness trade-off associated with the trait. We provide a formula for the fitness landscape of the population and show a natural extension of the result to an arbitrary number of heritable traits. Our method can be viewed as a dynamical systems generalisation of the Price equation to include two sexes, age structure and multiple traits. We use this formula to examine the effect of grandmothering, whereby post-fertile females subsidise their daughter’s fertility by provisioning grandchildren. Grandmothering can drive a shift towards increasingly male-biased mating sex ratios due to a post-fertile life stage in females, while male fertility continues to older ages. Our fitness landscapes show a net increase in fitness for both males and females at longer lifespans, and as a result, we find that grandmothering alone provides an evolutionary trajectory to higher longevities.

Keywords

Population dynamics Evolutionary dynamics Sexual conflict Grandmother hypothesis Human evolution 

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Copyright information

© Society for Mathematical Biology 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew H. Chan
    • 1
  • Kristen Hawkes
    • 2
  • Peter S. Kim
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Mathematics and StatisticsUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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