Animal parthenogenesis

Science  26 Aug 1977:
Vol. 197, Issue 4306, pp. 837-843
DOI: 10.1126/science.887925


The available evidence on the ecological factors favoring the existence and origin of natural parthenogenesis is evaluated. Analysis of the geographical distributions of the well-known cases of animal parthenogenesis in nature reveals (i) that most of these species exist in natural disclimax communities and (ii) that within these communities they exist in isolation from closely related congeneric species. Parthenogenesis can only evolve in areas devoid of the generating bisexual species, because such species would prevent newly formed unisexuals from establishing clones due either to hybridization or competition. Furthermore, the two unique features allowing parthenogenetic species to invade and occupy open habitats faster than bisexuals are (i) a double intrinsic rate of increase and (ii) the ability of one individual to establish a new colony.