Reproductive uncertainty and the relative competitiveness of simultaneous hermaphroditism versus dioecy.
Hermaphroditism is typically associated with a sedentary existence, whereas dioecy is associated with mobility. This pattern is reflected within flowering plants, as dioecious species commonly possess traits that promote high dispersal. We investigated these associations with three population dynamics models (an individual-based simulation and two mathematical models, one deterministic and the other stochastic) that allowed us to examine competition for space between a hermaphroditic and dioecious species from different perspectives. The competing species are identical in every way but their sexual system. Separation of the sexes increases the variances of pollen import and seed dispersal for the dioecious species. These variances propagate through subsequent reproductive processes and ultimately reduce mean recruitment as a result of nonlinear averaging (Jensen's inequality). A dioecious species could overcome this disadvantage simply by producing more gametes than hermaphrodites; however, in line with the association with mobility, selection on dioecious species should also favor traits that reduce reproductive uncertainty, such as extensive dispersal.
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