Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Sex Switching

  • Andrew M. HolubEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_2058-1



Sex switching is the process by which an organism changes sexual characteristics, including gonads and gamete production, from one sex to another.


Sex switching occurs when an organism changes from one sex to another. This switch is accompanied by a shift in gamete production and reproductive strategy corresponding to the new sex. Sex switching often occurs due to environmental pressures that inhibit the reproductive prospects of one sex over another, such as when one sex is overabundant within a group or when mates of the opposite sex are otherwise difficult to find. Although sex switching is relatively common in plants, it is almost exclusively restricted to fish and invertebrates in the animal kingdom. There are three types of sex switching: protandry, protogyny, and bidirectional.

Evolution of Sex Switching

The evolution of sex switching is often understood via sex allocation theory,...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOakland UniversityRochesterUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Joseph A Camilleri
    • 1
  1. 1.Westfield State UniversityWestfieldUSA