Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Protandrous Hermaphroditism

  • Jonathan M. Henshaw
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1972-1



A reproductive system where individuals mature as males, but may reproduce as females later in life.


In most animals, “males” and “females” are distinct classes of individuals that specialize in the production of sperm and eggs, respectively. However, a substantial minority of species are hermaphrodites, meaning that a single individual can produce both eggs and sperm, either simultaneously or at different stages of its life. “Protandrous” hermaphrodites begin their reproductive lives as males, but reproduce as females later in life.

Two examples help to illustrate (Fig. 1). Anemonefish live in small territorial groups, where reproduction and sex change are determined by a strict dominance hierarchy (Munday et al. 2006). The largest individual in the group is a breeding female, the second-largest is a breeding male, and all smaller individuals are nonbreeding males. If the female dies or is removed, then the...
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Ecology and Evolution, Research School of BiologyThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Annika Paukner
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Comparative EthologyEunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human DevelopmentPoolesvilleUSA