Female biased adult sex ratio in subterranean animals

Sex allocation theory predicts that the proportion of daughters to sons will evolve in response to ecological conditions that determine the costs and benefits of producing each sex. All else being equal, the adult sex ratio (ASR) should also vary with ecological conditions. Many studies of subterranean species reported female-biased ASR, but no systematic study has yet been conducted. We test the hypothesis that the ASR becomes more female-biased with increased isolation from the surface. We found a significant difference in the ASR among habitats after correction for phylogeny. It is most weakly female-biased at the surface-subterranean boundary and most strongly female-biased in phreatic lakes. We suggest that a history of inbreeding in subterranean populations might lower inbreeding depression such that kin selection favours mating with siblings. This could select for a female-biased offspring sex ratio due to local mate competition among brothers.

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