Can punishment maintain sex?
Version of Record online: 7 DEC 2007
Volume 117, Issue 2, pages 173–176, February 2008
How to Cite
Rankin, D. J. (2008), Can punishment maintain sex?. Oikos, 117: 173–176. doi: 10.1111/j.2007.0030-1299.16271.x
- Issue online: 7 DEC 2007
- Version of Record online: 7 DEC 2007
- Manuscript Accepted 17 October 2007
Individuals who reproduce asexually have a two-fold advantage over their sexually-reproducing counterparts as they are able to reproduce twice as fast. Explaining why sexual reproduction is favoured over asexual reproduction therefore remains an important challenge in evolutionary biology. Various mechanisms involving resistance to parasites, adaptation to novel environments and helping to purge the genome of deleterious mutations have all been proposed as potential mechanisms which could promote the evolution of sex. A recent article has suggested that spiteful males may help to reduce the two-fold advantage of asexual females. Here I discuss this idea, and further ask whether punishment of asexual females by sexual females could be one way in which sexual reproduction could be maintained in groups of animals; in light of recent research on the repression of competition, it could be possible that asexual females which reproduce faster than their sexual counterparts will be punished for using group resources. It may therefore be possible that the behaviour of sexual individuals towards asexual females could have fitness consequences which could potentially reduce the two-fold advantage they gain from reproducing parthenogenetically.