Send to

Choose Destination
Trends Ecol Evol. 2012 May;27(5):260-4. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2011.12.006. Epub 2012 Jan 23.

Anisogamy, chance and the evolution of sex roles.

Author information

Evolutionary Biology, Zoological Institute, University of Basel, Vesalgasse 1, CH-4051 Basel, Switzerland.


Recently, several authors have challenged the view that anisogamy, the defining feature of the sexes, is an important determinant of the evolution of sex roles. Sex roles are instead suggested to result from chance, or from non-heritable differences in life histories of females and males. Here, we take issue with these ideas. We note that random processes alone cannot cause consistent differences between the sexes, and that those differences between the sexes in life histories that affect the sex roles are themselves the result of sex-specific selection that can ultimately be traced back to anisogamy. To understand sex roles, one should ask how environmental variation and female-male coevolution cause variation in sex-specific selection in the light of anisogamy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center