05.01.2015

Sexual reproduction, levels of selection and species extinction

Hanna Kokko's team is currently busy with developing mathematical and empirical methods to understand, among other things, why we are not all facultatively sexual. After all, having a little bit of sex now and then brings about population genetic signatures that are similar to reproducing sexually in every generation; but a low frequency of sex would simultaneously avoid paying most of the costs of male production. Facultative sex is not the only one of her interests, however. Her team is also generally interested in the

  • consequences of sexual reproduction and the male-female dimorphism for traits that are sometimes traditionally considered without taking account such factors: dispersal, local adaptation, spatial demography
  • maintenance of polymorphisms and frequency-dependent selection
  • developing bet-hedging theory: when considered over multiple timescales, when does it promote diversity (the costs in terms of reduced mean fitness aren’t sufficient to destroy the benefits of changed variance in fitness), and when does it not – which can happen if the variance-related benefits aren’t sufficient, or we have a case of conservative bet-hedging in hand.