Patterns of mating-system evolution in hermaphroditic animals: correlations among selfing rate, inbreeding depression, and the timing of reproduction.

Evolution; international journal of organic evolution

PubMedID: 21521187

Escobar JS, Auld JR, Correa AC, Alonso JM, Bony YK, Coutellec MA, Koene JM, Pointier JP, Jarne P, David P. Patterns of mating-system evolution in hermaphroditic animals: correlations among selfing rate, inbreeding depression, and the timing of reproduction. Evolution. 2011;65(5):1233-53.
In hermaphrodites, traits that influence the selfing rate can coevolve with inbreeding depression, leading to the emergence of evolutionary syndromes. Theory predicts a negative correlation between inbreeding depression and selfing rate across species. This prediction has only been examined and validated in vascular plants. Furthermore, selfing rates are often influenced by environmental conditions (e.g., lack of mates or pollinators), and species are predicted to evolve mechanisms to buffer this variation. We extend previous studies of mating-system syndromes in two ways. First, we assembled a new dataset on Basommatophoran snails (17 species, including new data on 12 species). Second, we measured how species responded to variation in mate availability. Specifically, we quantified the waiting time before selfing (i.e., how long the onset of reproduction is delayed in the absence of mates). Selfing rates were negatively correlated with both inbreeding depression and the waiting time. Species with stronger inbreeding depression exhibited longer waiting times. These patterns obtained on Basommatophorans still hold when including eight other hermaphroditic animals. Our results support the hypothesis that selection drives the evolution of mating-system syndromes in animals. The reaction norm of selfing rates to mate availability is a key target of natural selection in this context.