Quantitative tests of sex allocation theory have often indicated that organism strategies deviate from model predictions. In pollinating fig wasps, Lipporrhopalum tentacularis, whole fig (brood) sex ratios are generally more female-biased than predicted by local mate competition (LMC) theory where females (foundresses) use density as a cue to assess potential LMC. We use microsatellite markers to investigate foundress sex ratios in L. tentacularis and show that they actually use their clutch size as a cue, with strategies closely approximating the predictions of a new model we develop of these conditions. We then provide evidence that the use of clutch size as a cue is common among species experiencing LMC, and given the other predictions of our model argue that this is because their ecologies mean it provides sufficiently accurate information about potential LMC that the use of other more costly cues has not evolved. We further argue that the use of these more costly cues by other species is due to the effect that ecological differences have on cue accuracy. This implies that deviations from earlier theoretical predictions often indicate that the cues used to assess environmental conditions differ from those assumed by models, rather than limits on the ability of natural selection to produce ‘perfect’ organisms. [KEYWORDS: sex ratios ; local mate competition ; cue use ; fig wasps ; precision of adaptation]
Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Journal publication date2005

ID: 360012