Adult sex ratios: causes of variation and implications for animal and human societies

Ryan Schacht, Steven R. Beissinger, Claus Wedekind, Michael D. Jennions, Benjamin Geffroy, András Liker, Peter M. Kappeler, Franz J. Weissing, Karen L. Kramer, Therese Hesketh, Jérôme Boissier, Caroline Uggla, Mike Hollingshaus, Tamás Székely

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (SciVal)


Converging lines of inquiry from across the social and biological sciences target the adult sex ratio (ASR; the proportion of males in the adult population) as a fundamental population-level determinant of behavior. The ASR, which indicates the relative number of potential mates to competitors in a population, frames the selective arena for competition, mate choice, and social interactions. Here we review a growing literature, focusing on methodological developments that sharpen knowledge of the demographic variables underlying ASR variation, experiments that enhance understanding of the consequences of ASR imbalance across societies, and phylogenetic analyses that provide novel insights into social evolution. We additionally highlight areas where research advances are expected to make accelerating contributions across the social sciences, evolutionary biology, and biodiversity conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1273
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Early online date19 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Timothy Clutton-Brock, Graeme Hays, and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful and insightful comments. The authors also acknowledge valuable feedback, prompting the writing of this review, from colleagues from all over the world during the Adult Sex Ratio workshop in Berlin, February 2017. This work has received funding from the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Germany, the Swiss National Science Foundation (31003A_182265), the Royal Society (WM170050, APEX APX\R1\191045) and the National Research, Development and Innovation Office of Hungary (ÉLVONAL KKP-126949).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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