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Werren and Charnov (1978) and Seger (1983) proposed a model to explain a fairly common pattern of alternating sex ratio biases between generations in partially bivoltine insects. When first-generation males overlap and mate with females of the second generation, then females should bias sex ratios in favor of sons for the first generation and daughters for the second generation. In an intensive, 7-year study at four sites in northern Florida, pipe-organ mud-daubing wasps (Trypoxylon (Trypargilum) politum; Hymenoptera: Sphecidae) were found to have strongly male-biased sex ratios in the first or overwintering generation and 1:1 or female-biased sex ratios in the second or summer generation. These differences were not due to differences in mortality of the two sexes but rather resulted from changing female sex-allocation decisions. In some respects the mud dauber results fit Seger's model well: alternating sex ratios in partially bivoltine populations, first-generation males overlapping second-generation females and perhaps most convincingly, northern, univoltine populations do not have a male bias. Despite this qualitative fit, however, our data do not meet the quantitative predictions of the model. This could result from the fact that some assumptions of the model are not met by the life history of T. politum. Alternative explanations for alternating sex ratios include split sex ratios, seasonal differences in cost ratios, facultative maternal investment rules and facultative overwintering decisions by offspring. Despite the position that sex ratios have achieved in the modern study of evolution, it is clear that accurate, quantitative predictions on sex-allocation patterns demand the same detailed understanding of the biology of the organism that is required for the study of other adaptations. © 1992 Springer-Verlag.

Original publication




Journal article


Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

Publication Date





7 - 27