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Evolution. 2002 May;56(5):1059-62.

The cost of fluctuating inbreeding depression.

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  • 1Department of Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. pchept@po-box.mcgill.ca


We present a phenotypic model for the evolution of self-fertilization in an infinite population of annual hermaphrodites for the case in which fitness and inbreeding depression vary among generations (e.g., due to fluctuations in the environment from year to year). Conditions for the evolution of selfing, mixed mating, and outcrossing are derived and are compared with results from numerical calculations that assume a normal distribution of inbreeding depression. In contrast to the situation in which inbreeding depression does not vary, when inbreeding depression fluctuates in a stochastic manner among generations with a mean less than 0.5, selfing is not necessarily selected. Thus, fluctuating inbreeding depression can be viewed as an additional cost of selfing that may stabilize mixed mating systems. These results emphasize the need to take into account fluctuating inbreeding depression in empirical studies aimed at understanding mating system evolution in annuals.

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