Life history and mating systems select for male biased parasitism mediated through natural selection and ecological feedbacks

Flora S. Bacelar, Andrew White, Mike Boots

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

tlsb-1%Males are often the 'sicker' sex with male biased parasitism found in a taxonomically diverse range of species. There is considerable interest in the processes that could underlie the evolution of sex-biased parasitism. Mating system differences along with differences in lifespan may play a key role. We examine whether these factors are likely to lead to male-biased parasitism through natural selection taking into account the critical role that ecological feedbacks play in the evolution of defence. We use a host-parasite model with two-sexes and the techniques of adaptive dynamics to investigate how mating system and sexual differences in competitive ability and longevity can select for a bias in the rates of parasitism. Male-biased parasitism is selected for when males have a shorter average lifespan or when males are subject to greater competition for resources. Male-biased parasitism evolves as a consequence of sexual differences in life-history that produce a greater proportion of susceptible females than males and therefore reduce the cost of avoiding parasitism in males. Different mating systems such as monogamy, polygyny or polyandry did not produce a bias in parasitism through these ecological feedbacks but may accentuate an existing bias. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-137
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Volume269
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2011

Keywords

  • Adaptive dynamics
  • Evolution of disease resistance
  • Life-history evolution
  • Male-biased parasitism

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