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, 46 (3), 249-78

Gene-culture Coevolution and Sex Ratios: The Effects of Infanticide, Sex-Selective Abortion, Sex Selection, and Sex-Biased Parental Investment on the Evolution of Sex Ratios

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Gene-culture Coevolution and Sex Ratios: The Effects of Infanticide, Sex-Selective Abortion, Sex Selection, and Sex-Biased Parental Investment on the Evolution of Sex Ratios

J Kumm et al. Theor Popul Biol.

Abstract

The evolutionary consequences of culturally transmitted practices that cause differential mortality between the sexes, thereby distorting the sex ratio (e.g., female infanticide and sex-selective abortion), are explored using dynamic models of gene-culture coevolution. We investigate how a preference for the sex of offspring may affect the selection of genes distorting the primary sex ratio. Sex-dependent differences in mortality have been predicted to select for a male- or female-biased primary sex ratio, to have no effect, or to favor either under different circumstances. We find that when a mating pair's behavior modifies mortality rates in favor of one sex, but does not change the number of offspring produced in the mating, the primary sex ratio will evolve a bias against the favored sex. However, when the total number of offspring of a mating pair is significantly reduced as a consequence of their prejudice, the primary sex ratio will evolve to favor the preferred sex. These results hold irrespective of whether the sex ratio is distorted by the mother's, the father's or the individual's own autosomal genes. The use of dynamic models of gene-culture coevolution allows us to explore the evolution of alleles which distort the sex ratio, as well as the final equilibrium states of the system. Gene-culture interactions can provide equilibria different from those in purely genetic systems, slow the approach to these equilibria by orders of magnitude, and move the primary (PSR) and the adult sex ratio (ASR) away from any stable equilibrium for hundreds of generations.

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