Mating system shapes the costs of parasitism



UVA Biology graduate student Tyler Wittman recently published a meta-analysis from his Ph.D. thesis in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Using published data from 64 animal species spanning a variety of vertebrate and invertebrate lineages, Tyler and coauthor Bob Cox showed that parasites tend to reduce host survival to a greater extent in males than in females under polygynous and promiscuous mating systems. However, when monogamy evolves, the balance shifts such that female hosts suffer higher survival costs of parasitism than do male hosts.

Wittman, TN and RM Cox. 2021. The evolution of monogamy is associated with reversals from male to female bias in the survival cost of parasitism. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 288: 20210421 https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2021.0421

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