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Classic theory on the evolution of anisogamy focuses on the trade-off between gamete productivity and provisioning and mechanisms associated with post-zygotic survival. In this article, the role of mortality acting on both zygotes and gametes is explored as a factor influencing the evolution of different sized gametes. In particular, variable mortality through differential survival or metabolic damage is shown to affect the persistence of isogamy, the evolution of more than two sexes and the evolution of anisogamy. Evolutionary stable isogamous states are shown to be locally unstable and disruptive selection can induce the evolution of anisogamy. Analysis of both the isogamous and anisogamous ESS points reveals that the persistence of either of these conditions is not always assured. The implications of variable survival on the evolution of anisogamy are discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


J Theor Biol

Publication Date





198 - 210


Adaptation, Physiological, Animals, Biological Evolution, Cell Survival, Female, Germ Cells, Male, Models, Biological, Reproduction, Sex, Zygote