Brooding and the Evolution of Parthenogenesis: Strategy Models and Evidence from Aquatic Invertebrates
Developmental defects are expected to be common and severe in the early evolution of parthenogenesis, and they could help to explain the predominance of sexual forms of reproduction. It is difficult, however, to see how such defects might explain the ecological and phylogenetic correlates of sex. Here we suggest that internally fertilized animals that brood their young may be more susceptible to invasion by parthenogenetic mutants. The reason is that brooders could establish `selective arenas' in which developmentally defective embryos are competitively displaced. Brooders could also selectively abort defective embryos, and replace them with minimal cost. Consistent with these ideas, we found a striking association between brooding and parthenogenesis in aquatic invertebrates. For example, in the Cnidaria and Mollusca, parthenogenesis is significantly more common in lineages that retain their young through the early stages of development. Hence brooding and ecological factors (such as escape from parasites) might combine to explain the initial spread, long-term persistence, and phylogenetic distribution of parthenogenetic reproduction.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B
- Pub Date:
- April 1994