Biology Faculty & Staff Publications

Sex ratio, sex change and natural selection

Egbert Leigh
Eric Charnov
Robert Warner


We describe the analogy between the theory of natural selection on sex ratio in newborn gonochores (which will not change sex), and on the age of sex change in sequential hermaphrodites (which are all born into one sex and change to the other later on). We also discuss the conditions under which natural selection favors sequential hermaphrodites over gonochores and vice versa. We show that, in a nearly stable population of nearly constant age composition, selection favors a rare mutant if it increases the prospective reproduction of its newborn bearers that are (or while they are) members of one sex by a percentage exceeding the percentage loss to the other sex.