A Snail With Unbiased Population Sex Ratios but Highly Biased Brood Sex Ratios

Proc Biol Sci. 2003 Feb 7;270(1512):283-8. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2002.2226.


Extraordinary sex ratio patterns and the underlying sex-determining mechanisms in various organisms are worth investigating, particularly because they shed light on adaptive sex-ratio adjustment. Here, we report an extremely large variation in the brood sex ratio in the freshwater snail, Pomacea canaliculata. In eight rearing series originating from three wild populations, sex ratios were highly variable among broods, ranging continuously from almost exclusively males to almost exclusively females. However, sex ratios were similar between broods from the same mating pair, indicating that sex ratio is a family trait. Irrespective of the large variations, the average sex ratios in all rearing series were not significantly different from 0.5. We argue that Fisher's adaptive sex-ratio theory can explain the equal average sex ratios, and the results, in turn, directly support Fisher's theory. Polyfactorial sex determination (in which sex is determined by three or more genetic factors) is suggested as the most likely mechanism producing the variable brood sex ratio.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Genetics, Population
  • Male
  • Sex Determination Processes*
  • Sex Ratio*
  • Snails / physiology*