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Twinning and the r/K Reproductive Strategy: A Critique of Rushton's Theory

  • G. Allen (a1), A.W. Eriksson (a2), J. Fellman (a3), P. Parisi (a4) and S.G. Vandenberg (a5)...

Abstract

The theory of r selection, favoring population growth, as opposed to K selection, favoring more efficient utilization of resources, has in recent years been applied by Rushton to contrast human ethnic groups in terms of their r/K reproductive strategies, suggesting the existence of a continuum from r groups, producing many offspring but providing little parental care, to K groups, producing few offspring but providing much parental care. Rushton's theory, which is largely based on ethnic differences in twinning rates, is here critically examined. It is pointed out that twinning rate differences are not necessarily genetic in origin since various environmental factors clearly play a role, and also that twinning, as a mode of reproduction, is not necessarily an r strategy, considering the high prenatal and perinatal selection to which it has been, and still is, associated. Moreover, Rushton misinterprets a number of relevant aspects related to the biology of twinning. The claim that ethnic differences in twinning rates provide evidence for an r/K typology in human populations with respect to reproductive strategies does not appear to be warranted.

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Corresponding author

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References

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Keywords

Twinning and the r/K Reproductive Strategy: A Critique of Rushton's Theory

  • G. Allen (a1), A.W. Eriksson (a2), J. Fellman (a3), P. Parisi (a4) and S.G. Vandenberg (a5)...

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