University of Auckland's Matthew Goddard tells New Scientist that "all else being equal, the sexual populations should be outcompeted by asexual populations." That's because an asexual species "should adapt more quickly to a specific niche in the environment" than their counterparts, the magazine adds. "Gene mixing between sexual individuals from different niches will produce maladapted hybrids that will not reliably pass on useful adaptations."
Of course, there's plenty of evidence to suggest that is not how things happen in nature. And now, new research from Goddard and his colleague Jeremy Gray published in Ecology Letters shows that gene flow between niches facilitates local adaptation in the lab, too.
New Scientist explains:
In their paper, the authors report having found that, generally speaking, sex likely does more harm than good in heterogeneous environments.
"They became simultaneously specialised to both environments — or superior generally," Goddard tells New Scientist. "This is the first empirical demonstration that sex doesn't retard adaptation in a complex environment."