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Proc Biol Sci. 2002 Jun 7;269(1496):1177-86.

The evolution of self-fertilization in density-regulated populations.

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  • 1Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CNRS), 1919 Route de Mende, F-34293 Montpellier Cedex 05, France.


The evolution of selfing in hermaphrodites has been studied to reveal the demographic conditions that lead to intermediate selfing rates. Using a demographic model based on Ricker-type density regulation, we assume first that, independent of population density, inbred individuals survive less well than outbred individuals and second, that inbred and outbred individuals differ in their competitive abilities in density-regulated populations. The evolution of selfing, driven by inbreeding depression and the cost of outcrossing, is then analysed for three fundamentally different demographic scenarios: stable population densities, deterministically varying population densities (resulting from cyclical or chaotic population dynamics) and stochastic fluctuations of carrying capacities (resulting from environmental noise). We show that even under stable demographic conditions evolutionary outcomes are not confined to either complete selfing or full outcrossing. Instead, intermediate selfing rates arise under a wide range of conditions, depending on the nature of competitive interactions between inbred and outbred individuals. We also explore the evolution of selfing under deterministic and stochastic density fluctuations to demonstrate that such environmental conditions can evolutionarily stabilize intermediate selfing rates. This is the first study, to our knowledge, to consider in detail the effect of density regulation on the evolution of selfing rates.

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