Effects of reproductive compensation, gamete discounting and reproductive assurance on mating-system diversity in hermaphrodites

Lawrence D Harder, Shane A Richards, Matthew B Routley
Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution 2008, 62 (1): 157-72
Hermaphroditism allows considerable scope for contributing genes to subsequent generations through various mixtures of selfed and outcrossed offspring. The fitness consequences of different family compositions determine the evolutionarily stable mating strategy and depend on the interplay of genetic features, the nature of mating, and factors that govern offspring development. This theoretical article considers the relative contributions of these influences and their interacting effects on mating-system evolution, given a fixed genetic load within a population. Strong inbreeding depression after offspring gain independence selects for exclusive outcrossing, regardless of the intensity of predispersal inbreeding depression, unless insufficient mating limits offspring production. The extent to which selfing evolves under weak postdispersal inbreeding depression depends on predispersal inbreeding depression and the opportunity for resource limitation of offspring production. Mixed selfing and outcrossing is an evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS) if selfed zygotes survive poorly, but selfed offspring survive well, and maternal individuals produce enough "extra" eggs that deaths of unviable outcrossed embryos do not impact offspring production (reproductive compensation). Mixed mating can also be an ESS, despite weak lifetime inbreeding depression, if self-mating reduces the number of male gametes available for outcrossing (male-gamete discounting). Reproductive compensation and male-gamete discounting act largely independently on mating-system evolution. ESS mating systems always involve either complete fertilization or fertilization of enough eggs to induce resource competition among embryos, so although reproductive assurance is adaptive with insufficient mating, it is never an ESS. Our results illustrate the theoretical importance of different constraints on offspring production (availability of male gametes, egg production, and maternal resources) for both the course and outcome of mating-system evolution, whereas unequal competition between selfed and outcrossed embryos has limited effect. These results also underscore the significance of heterogeneity in the nature and intensity of inbreeding depression during the life cycle for the evolution of hermaphrodite mating systems.

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