Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science


Applied Mathematics


Dr. Geoff Wild


The division of resources between male and female reproductive function is defined as sex allocation. The usefulness of simple rules to predict adaptive sex-allocation decisions has been a contentious topic. Simple rules are difficult to apply when the biological details of the life cycle are complex, as is the case in many vertebrates. We build a mathematical-computational model to investigate the usefulness of a simple rule that predicts adaptive sex-allocation decisions. We find that the simple rule is a better predictor of adaptive sex-allocation decisions when more features of an organism's life cycle are assumed to evolve. Even though the simple rule is a useful heuristic for predicting adaptive sex-allocation decisions, we find that its usefulness depends critically on the presence or absence of certain sex-specific asymmetries in the life cycle. We find that magnifying the asymmetries captured by the simple rule improves the usefulness of the simple rule.