Reproductive success is defined as the passing of genes onto the next generation in a way that they too can pass those genes on. In practice, this is often a tally of the number of offspring produced by an individual. A more correct definition, which incorporates inclusive fitness, is the relative production of fertile offspring by a genotype. For example, the offspring produced as a result of normal mating are an example of reproductive success, because they too can pass their genetic material on to the next generation. Alternatively, the birth of a mule as a result of the mating of a horse and a donkey is not an example of reproductive success because the mule is sterile and thus not able to continue the germ line.
Reproductive success is part of the calculation for fitness and a key element in the theories of natural selection and evolution.
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