Refereed Article Does inbreeding distort sex-ratios

Citation: Frankham R and Wilcken J. 2006. Does inbreeding distort sex-ratios. Conservation Genetics. 7. (6): 879-893.


Inbreeding is reputed to distort sex-ratios by reducing the proportion of the homogametic sex. However, many data sets do not show such an effect, and there is a known selective publication bias. To resolve the issue, we (a) developed detailed theoretical expectations for the effects of inbreeding on sex-ratios for autosomal and sex-linked loci with sex-limited effects or with equal effects in the two sexes, (b) evaluated the effects of inbreeding on sex-ratios in a new sample of 25 vertebrate taxa, and (c) evaluated the effects of inbreeding on sex-ratios for 69 replicate populations of Drosophila melanogaster. Theoretical analyses indicated that directional distortions of sex-ratios under inbreeding due to sex-linked loci with sex-limited expression are expected to be small and uncommon and that there will be no distortions in marsupials. Further, sex linked alleles expressed equally in both sexes may also distort sex-ratios following inbreeding. Autosomal sex-limited alleles should not result in directional sex-ratio distortions in large populations or across many replicates, but may lead to distortions of random direction in some small populations. There were no significant directional distortions of sex-ratio due to inbreeding in either the vertebrates or the Drosophila populations. However, there were significant random distortions of sex-ratios in both data sets, presumably from autosomal sex-limited alleles that had drifted in individual populations. Thus, directional distortions in sex-ratio are not a consistent signal of inbreeding depression.

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