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Part of the Adaptations of Desert Organisms book series (DESERT ORGAN.)


The passage quoted above is from an essay titled, “Is Sex Necessary”? This is a question that has long been a topic of debate among biologists (Maynard Smith 1971, 1978; Hutt 1972; Ghiselin 1974; Schaffer and Rosenzweig 1977; Hamilton 1980; Lloyd 1980; Hart and Begon 1982; Stearns 1992; Crozier 1997; Davis and Daly 1997; Fairbairn 1997; Kondrashov 1997; Parker 1997). The immediate response is “no” since many organisms reproduce asexually. Perhaps a more pertinent level of inquiry would address reproduction in its broadest sense. It seems trivial to suggest something so obvious to students of biology: that reproduction lies at the center of what organisms do. Although animals most assuredly engage in many other activities such as eating, drinking, breathing, thermoregulating, avoiding predators, and finding shelter and suitable habitat, to mention a few, they do these things because they are prerequisites for successful reproduction. Organisms are the result of evolution by natural selection, and selection acts on those factors that increase the probability of reproduction. The success of any species is predicated on the ability of individuals to stay alive long enough to reproduce.


  • Clutch Size
  • Reproductive Effort
  • Life History Parameter
  • Chihuahuan Desert
  • Hatchling Size

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“So it is necessary, at least intermittently (once a year, for the aphids, whether they need it or not), this thing called sex. As of course you and I knew it must be. Otherwise surely, by now, we mammals and dragonflies would have come up with something more dignified.”

(David Quammen: Is Sex Necessary? From: Natural Acts, Avory Books, New York, 1982)

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© 2000 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

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Punzo, F. (2000). Reproduction. In: Desert Arthropods: Life History Variations. Adaptations of Desert Organisms. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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