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Parthenogenesis in a Freshwater Snail: Reproductive Assurance Versus Parasitic Release

Curtis M. Lively
Evolution
Vol. 46, No. 4 (Aug., 1992), pp. 907-913
DOI: 10.2307/2409745
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2409745
Page Count: 7
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Parthenogenesis in a Freshwater Snail: Reproductive Assurance Versus Parasitic Release
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Abstract

Two alternative (but not mutually exclusive) hypotheses were contrasted for their abilities to explain the distribution of parthenogenesis in the freshwater snail Potamopyrgus antipodarum: the reproductive assurance hypothesis, which predicts that parthenogenesis will be favored in sparse populations where mates are difficult to find, and the Red Queen hypothesis, which predicts that parthenogenesis will be favored in populations that have a low risk of parasitism. The results were inconsistent with the prediction of the reproductive assurance hypothesis; male frequency was not significantly or positively correlated with snail density. Thus, there was no support for any of the hypotheses for the maintenance of sex that rely on selection for reproductive assurance to explain the distribution of parthenogenesis (e.g., recombinational repair). The results, however, were consistent with the Red Queen hypothesis; male frequency was positively and significantly correlated with the frequency of individuals infected by trematodes. This correlation suggests that parthenogenetic females have replaced sexual females in populations where parasites are rare, and that sexual females have persisted in populations where parasites are common.

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