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The consequences of facultative sex in a prey adapting to predation

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Koch,  H.
Emmy-Noether-Group Community Dynamics, Department Evolutionary Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Becks,  Lutz
Emmy-Noether-Group Community Dynamics, Department Evolutionary Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Koch, H., & Becks, L. (2016). The consequences of facultative sex in a prey adapting to predation. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, n/a-n/a. doi:10.1111/jeb.12987.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002C-0CFB-B
Abstract
A species reproductive mode, along with its associated costs and benefits, can play a significant role in its evolution and survival. Facultative sexuality, being able to reproduce both sexually and asexually, has been deemed evolutionary favourable as the benefits of either mode may be fully realized. In fact, many studies have focused on identifying the benefits of sex and/or the forces selecting for increased rates of sex using facultative sexual species. The costs of either mode, however, can also have a profound impact on a population's evolutionary trajectory. Here, we used experimental evolution and fitness assays to investigate the consequences of facultative sexuality in prey adapting to predation. Specifically, we compared the adaptive response of algal prey populations exposed to constant rotifer predation and which had alternating cycles of asexual and sexual reproduction where sexual episodes were either facultative (sexual and asexual progeny simultaneously propagated) or obligate (only sexual progeny propagated). We found that prey populations with facultative sexual episodes reached a lower final relative fitness and suffered a greater trade-off in traits under selection, that is defence and competitive ability, as compared to prey populations with obligate sexual episodes. Our results suggest that costs associated with sexual reproduction (germination time) and asexual reproduction (selection interference) were amplified in the facultative sexual prey populations, leading to a reduction in the net advantage of sexuality. Additionally, we found evidence that the cost of sex was reduced in the obligate sexual prey populations because increased selection for sex was observed via the spontaneous production of sexual cells. These results show that certain costs associated with facultative sexuality can affect an organism's evolutionary trajectory.