Sexual Selection Theory (sexual + selection_theory)

Distribution by Scientific Domains
Distribution within Life Sciences

Selected Abstracts

Environmental Predictors of Geographic Variation in Human Mating Preferences

ETHOLOGY, Issue 4 2002
Kevin J. McGraw
Sexual selection theory classically posits consistent and directional mate-preferences for male traits that provide benefits to females. However, flexible mate-choice tactics may persist within a species when males display multiple desirable features that confer different benefits to females under variable environmental conditions. Ecological factors such as population density, resource demand, and sex ratio can influence the value that female animals place on certain male characteristics across mating environments. In this study, I used human mate-preference data from `lonely hearts' advertisements in the newspapers of 23 cities in the USA to assess geographic differences in female preferences for male traits (e.g. physical attributes, resource-holding potential, emotional characteristics, personal interests) in relation to these ecological parameters. I found that females placed more emphasis on the resource-accruing ability of prospective mates in densely populated cities and cities having greater resource demands (higher cost of living). In contrast, women from densely populated or resource-demanding cities placed less emphasis on the emotional aspects or personal interests of males. Preferences for physical features were not environmentally linked, but instead were a function of the degree to which females advertised their own physical attractiveness. Collectively, these results suggest that certain mate-choice criteria employed by women are sensitive to variation in local environmental conditions and that variable levels of resource or mate availability may favor different mating tactics across human populations. [source]

Sex differences in nutrient-dependent reproductive ageing

AGING CELL, Issue 3 2009
Alexei A. Maklakov
Summary Evolutionary theories of aging predict that fitness-related traits, including reproductive performance, will senesce because the strength of selection declines with age. Sexual selection theory predicts, however, that male reproductive performance (especially sexual advertisement) will increase with age. In both bodies of theory, diet should mediate age-dependent changes in reproductive performance. In this study, we show that the sexes exhibit dramatic, qualitative differences in age-dependent reproductive performance trajectories and patterns of reproductive ageing in the cricket Teleogryllus commodus. In females, fecundity peaked early in adulthood and then declined. In contrast, male sexual advertisement increased across the natural lifespan and only declined well beyond the maximum field lifespan. These sex differences were robust to deviations from sex-specific dietary requirements. Our results demonstrate that sexual selection can be at least as important as sex-dependent mortality in shaping the signal of reproductive ageing. [source]

Honest olfactory ornamentation in a female-dominant primate

Abstract Sexual selection theory predicts that potential mates or competitors signal their quality to conspecifics. Whereas evidence of honest visual or vocal signals in males abounds, evidence of honest signalling via scent or by females is scarce. We previously showed that scent marks in male lemurs seasonally encode information about individual heterozygosity , a reliable predictor of immunocompetence and survivorship. As female lemurs dominate males, compete over resources, and produce sexually differentiated scent marks that likely evolved via direct selection, here we tested whether females also advertise genetic quality via olfactory cues. During the breeding season specifically, individual heterozygosity correlated negatively with the diversity of fatty acids (FAs) expressed in labial secretions and positively with the diversity of heavy FA esters. As odour,gene relationships predictive of health and survivorship emerged during a period critical to mate choice and female competition, we posit that genital scent marks function as honest olfactory ornaments in females. [source]

Smelling right: the scent of male lemurs advertises genetic quality and relatedness

Abstract Sexual selection theory predicts that competitors or potential mates signal their quality or relatedness to conspecifics. Researchers have focused on visual or auditory modes of signal transmission; however, the importance of olfactory indicators is gaining recognition. Using a primate model and a new integrative analytical approach, we provide the first evidence relating male olfactory cues to individual genome-wide heterozygosity and to the genetic distance between individuals. The relationships between male semiochemical profiles and genetic characteristics are apparent only during the highly competitive and stressful breeding season. As heterozygosity accurately predicts health and survivorship in this population, we identify scrotal olfactory cues as honest indicators of male quality, with relevance possibly to both sexes. Beyond showing that semiochemicals could underlie kin recognition and nepotism, we provide a putative olfactory mechanism to guide male,male competition and female mate choice. [source]

Genetic monogamy despite social promiscuity in the pot-bellied seahorse (Hippocampus abdominalis)

Abstract Sexual selection theory predicts a positive correlation between relative parental investment and mate choice. In syngnathid fishes (seahorses and pipefish), males brood offspring in specialized brooding structures. While female-female mating competition has been demonstrated in some pipefishes, all seahorses (genus Hippocampus) studied to date have been found to have conventional sex roles with greater male,male competition for access to mates despite possessing the most complex brood structures in the family. Although multiple mating is common in pipefish, seahorses are again exceptional, exhibiting strict genetic monogamy. Both demographic and behavioural explanations have been offered to explain the lack of multiple mating in seahorse species, but these hypotheses have not yet been explicitly addressed. We investigated mating systems and brood parentage of the pot-bellied seahorse, Hippocampus abdominalis, a temperate-water species that is socially promiscuous with conventional sex roles in laboratory populations. We observed promiscuous courtship behaviour and sex-role reversal in high density, female-biased field populations of H. abdominalis. We hypothesize that sex roles are plastic in H. abdominalis, depending on local population density and sex ratio. Despite promiscuous courtship behaviour, all assayed male seahorses were genetically monogamous in both laboratory and wild populations. Physiological limitations associated with embryo incubation may explain the absence of multiple mating in seahorses and may have played an important role in the development of the unique reproductive behaviour typical in these species. [source]

Nestling sex ratios in a population of Bluethroats Luscinia svecica inferred from AFLPÔ analysis

S. Questiau
We studied the sex ratio of Bluethroat Luscinia svecica broods using AFLPs. Our aim was to test whether there is a bias towards males that could be explained by sexual selection theories, or conversely, a bias towards females that could help explain the female-biased sex ratio among juveniles observed at a wintering site. The AFLP technique was reliable in sexing the nestlings from even small initial DNA quantities. Given the large number of polymorphic markers that can be obtained for each primer combination, the probability of detecting a W-chromosome-linked fragment is reasonably high. As a consequence, this method could be used in other species for sex-ratio studies and for other genetic purposes. Among 246 nestlings, we found an overall proportion of males of 50.8% at hatching and the sex-ratio variation using broods as independent units was not significantly different from expectation under a binomial distribution. None of the parental and environmental variables tested changed significantly the deviance to the model. Thus, sex determination in the Bluethroat seems to match the classical Mendelian model of a 1:1 sex ratio and cannot explain the biased sex ratio towards juvenile females found at the wintering site. [source]

Morphological and physiological sexual selection targets in a territorial damselfly

Abstract. 1Several morphological and physiological traits may shape fitness through the same performance measure. In such cases, differentiating between a scenario of many-to-one mapping, where phenotypic traits independently shape fitness leading to functional redundancy, and a scenario where traits strongly covary among each other and fitness, is needed. 2A multivariate approach was used, including morphological and physiological traits related to flight ability, a crucial performance measure in flying insects, to identify independent correlates of short-term mating success (mated versus unmated males) in the territorial damselfly Lestes viridis. 3Males with higher flight muscle mass, higher relative thorax mass, and more symmetrical hindwings, all traits presumably linked to manoeuvrability, were more likely to be mated. Unexpectedly, although relative thorax mass is often used as a proxy for flight muscle mass, both traits were selected for independently. Mated males had a higher thorax fat content than unmated males, possibly because of enhanced flight endurance. 4The finding of several independent targets of sexual selection linked to flight ability is consistent with a scenario of many-to-one mapping between phenotype and performance. Identifying such a scenario is important, because it may clarify situations where animals may show suboptimal values for some phenotypic traits shaping a performance measure, while still having high performance and fitness. We argue in the discussion that the functional approach of sexual selection provides a potent tool for examining unresolved issues in both sexual selection theory, as well as life-history theory. [source]

Operational sex ratio, sexual conflict and the intensity of sexual selection

Patrick S. Fitze
Abstract Modern sexual selection theory indicates that reproductive costs rather than the operational sex ratio predict the intensity of sexual selection. We investigated sexual selection in the polygynandrous common lizard Lacerta vivipara. This species shows male aggression, causing high mating costs for females when adult sex ratios (ASR) are male-biased. We manipulated ASR in 12 experimental populations and quantified the intensity of sexual selection based on the relationship between reproductive success and body size. In sharp contrast to classical sexual selection theory predictions, positive directional sexual selection on male size was stronger and positive directional selection on female size weaker in female-biased populations than in male-biased populations. Thus, consistent with modern theory, directional sexual selection on male size was weaker in populations with higher female mating costs. This suggests that the costs of breeding, but not the operational sex ratio, correctly predicted the strength of sexual selection. [source]

Toward a New Sexual Selection Paradigm: Polyandry, Conflict and Incompatibility (Invited Article)

ETHOLOGY, Issue 12 2003
Jeanne A. Zeh
Darwin's recognition that male,male competition and female choice could favor the evolution of exaggerated male traits detrimental to survival set the stage for more than a century of theoretical and empirical work on sexual selection. While this Darwinian paradigm represents one of the most profound insights in biology, its preoccupation with sexual selection as a directional evolutionary force acting on males has diverted attention away from the selective processes acting on females. Our understanding of female reproduction has been further confounded by discreet female mating tactics that have perpetuated the illusion of the monogamous female and masked the potential for conflict between the sexes. With advances in molecular techniques leading to the discovery that polyandry is a pervasive mating strategy, recognition of these shortcomings has brought the study of sexual selection to its current state of flux. In this paper, we suggest that progress in two key areas is critical to formulation of a more inclusive, sexual selection paradigm that adequately incorporates selection from the female perspective. First, we need to develop a better understanding of male × female and maternal × paternal genome interactions and the role that polyandry plays in providing females with non-additive genetic benefits such as incompatibility avoidance. Consideration of these interaction effects influencing natural selection on females is important because they can complicate and even undermine directional sexual selection on males. Secondly, because antagonistic coevolution maintains a balance between opposing sides that obscures the conflict itself, many more experimental evolution studies and interventionist investigations (e.g. gene knockouts) are needed to tease apart male manipulative adaptations and female counter-adaptations. It seems evident that the divisiveness and controversy that has plagued sexual selection theory since Darwin first proposed the idea has often stalled progress in this important field of evolutionary biology. What is now needed is a more pluralistic and integrative approach that considers natural as well as sexual selection acting on females, incorporates multiple sexual selection mechanisms, and exploits advances in physiology and molecular biology to understand the mechanisms through which males and females achieve reproductive success. [source]


EVOLUTION, Issue 12 2005
Merrill A. Peterson
Abstract Most studies of reinforcement have focused on the evolution of either female choice or male mating cues, following the long-held view in sexual selection theory that mating mastakes are typically more costly for females than for males. However, factors such as conspecific sperm precedence can buffer females against the cost of mating mistakes, suggesting that in some hybrid zones mating mistakes may be more costly for males than for females. Thus, the historical bias in reinforcement research may underestimate its frequency. In this study, we present evidence that reinforcement has driven the evolution of male choice in a hybrid zone between teh highly promiscuous lealf beetles chyrsochus cobaltinus and C. auratus, the hybrids of which have extremely low fitness. In addition, there is evidence for male choice in these beetles and that male mating mistakes may be costly, due to reduced opportunities to mate with conspecific females. The present study combines laboratory and field methods to quantify the strenght of sexual isolation, test the hypothesis of reproductive character displacement, and assess the link between relative abundance and the strenght of selection against hybridization. We document that, while sexual isolation is weak, it is sufficient to produce positive assortative mating. In addtion, reproductive character displacement was only detected in the relatively rare species. The strong postzygotic barriers in this system are sufficient to generate the bimodality that characterizes this hybrid zone, but the weak sexual isolation is not, calling into question whether strong prezygotic isolation is necessary for the maintenance of bimodality. Growing evidence that the cost of mating mistakes is sufficient to shape the evolution of male mate choice suggests that the reinforecement of male mate choice may prove to be a widespread occurrence. [source]


EVOLUTION, Issue 2 2004
A. Cordero Rivera
Abstract Postmating sexual selection theory predicts that in allopatry reproductive traits diverge rapidly and that the resulting differentiation in these traits may lead to restrictions to gene flow between populations and, eventually, reproductive isolation. In this paper we explore the potential for this premise in a group of damselflies of the family Calopterygidae, in which postmating sexual mechanisms are especially well understood. Particularly, we tested if in allopatric populations the sperm competition mechanisms and genitalic traits involved in these mechanisms have indeed diverged as sexual selection theory predicts. We did so in two different steps. First, we compared the sperm competition mechanisms of two allopatric populations of Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis (one Italian population studied here and one Spanish population previously studied). Our results indicate that in both populations males are able to displace spermathecal sperm, but the mechanism used for sperm removal between both populations is strikingly different. In the Spanish population males seem to empty the spermathecae by stimulating females, whereas in the Italian population males physically remove sperm from the spermathecae. Both populations also exhibit differences in genital morphometry that explain the use of different mechanisms: the male lateral processes are narrower than the spermathecal ducts in the Italian population, which is the reverse in the Spanish population. The estimated degree of phenotypic differentiation between these populations based on the genitalic traits involved in sperm removal was much greater than the differentiation based on a set of other seven morphological variables, suggesting that strong directional postmating sexual selection is indeed the main evolutionary force behind the reproductive differentiation between the studied populations. In a second step, we examined if a similar pattern in genital morphometry emerge in allopatric populations of this and other three species of the same family (Calopteryx splendens, C. virgo and Hetaerina cruentata). Our results suggest that there is geographic variation in the sperm competition mechanisms in all four studied species. Furthermore, genitalic morphology was significantly divergent between populations within species even when different populations were using the same copulatory mechanism. These results can be explained by probable local coadaptation processes that have given rise to an ability or inability to reach and displace spermathecal sperm in different populations. This set of results provides the first direct evidence of intraspecific evolution of genitalic traits shaped by postmating sexual selection. [source]

A functional approach to sexual selection

Summary 1Sexual selection theory is a robust and dynamic field within evolutionary biology, yet despite decades of research, remarkably little is known of the mechanistic bases of mate choice and male competition. 2Because many aspects of sexual selection involve dynamic movements, and are physically challenging, the limits of sexual selection may be defined by key functional and physiological variables (i.e. the ,functional approach'). 3We advocate the functional approach for providing mechanistic resolution on the adaptive basis of sexual structures and signals, the nature of mate choice and how males compete, among other issues. 4An overview of recent work, highlighted in this special issue, shows that many features of sexual selection, including the outcome of male fights, the morphology and design of sexual signals, and the nature of mate choice, all appear to be dictated in large part by functional and physiological parameters. 5We argue that the functional approach provides a potent tool for resolving several unresolved issues in sexual selection theory, particularly the nature of male quality, the handicap and indicator models of sexual selection, and the basis of mate choice. [source]

Evolution of sexual size monomorphism: the influence of passive mate guarding

Abstract Some species have potential for intense mate competition yet exhibit little or no sexual size dimorphism, despite predictions from sexual selection theory. Using a conceptual model, we show the conditions for which passive mate guarding with copulatory plugs can be an alternative and more successful strategy to active (direct) guarding, reducing selection pressure on large male size. The model predicts that copulatory plugs in mammals should be favoured in species for which females have short sexual receptivity periods. Using data on 62 primate species and a phylogenetic regression approach, we show that, as predicted, copulatory plugs are negatively associated with degree of sexual dimorphism and females' sexual receptivity length. Penile spines are also significantly associated with plug use and short receptivity periods suggesting a possible offensive role in sperm competition. Results highlight that life-history characteristics, such as sexual receptivity lengths, may alter the costs and benefits of alternative male strategies and thus alter the strength of sexual selection. [source]

An Observational Study of Early Heterosexual Interaction at Middle School Dances

Anthony D. Pellegrini
In this longitudinal, observational study of heterosexual interaction at middle school dances we examined the degree to which boys' and girls' groups became more gender integrated over time. The results show groups became more integrated over time with the pattern differing by gender. Boys had a relatively low level of contact with girls over the early months with an accelerated increase in the latter months. Girls had an increase in contact with boys over the early months but then a decrease in contact over the latter months. Further, changes in the dynamic covariate, aggression, were associated with changes in integration, and the static covariate, initial physical attractiveness, was predictive of integration trajectories. Physical attractiveness and aggression did relate to gender integration, but counter to our hypotheses, each strategy did not vary by gender, as predicted by sexual selection theory. Results are discussed in terms of different methods in assessing the roles of aggression and physical attractiveness in gender integration. [source]

Sexual selection is not the origin of long necks in giraffes

G. Mitchell
Abstract The evolutionary origin of the long neck of giraffes is enigmatic. One theory (the ,sexual selection' theory) is that their shape evolved because males use their necks and heads to achieve sexual dominance. Support for this theory would be that males invest more in neck and head growth than do females. We have investigated this hypothesis in 17 male and 21 female giraffes with body masses ranging from juvenile to mature animals, by measuring head mass, neck mass, neck and leg length and the neck length to leg length ratio. We found no significant differences in any of these dimensions between males and females of the same mass, although mature males, whose body mass is significantly (50%) greater than that of mature females, do have significantly heavier (but not longer) necks and heavier heads than mature females. We conclude that morphological differences between males and females are minimal, that differences that do exist can be accounted for by the larger final mass of males and that sexual selection is not the origin of a long neck in giraffes. [source]