A rigorous comparison of sexual selection indexes via simulations of diverse mating systems.
ABSTRACT: Sexual selection is a cornerstone of evolutionary theory, but measuring it has proved surprisingly difficult and controversial. Various proxy measures--e.g., the Bateman gradient and the opportunity for sexual selection--are widely used in empirical studies. However, we do not know how reliably these measures predict the strength of sexual selection across natural systems, and most perform poorly in theoretical worst-case scenarios. Here we provide a rigorous comparison of eight commonly used indexes of sexual selection. We simulated 500 biologically plausible mating systems, based on the templates of five well-studied species that cover a diverse range of reproductive life histories. We compared putative indexes to the actual strength of premating sexual selection, measured as the strength of selection on a simulated "mating trait." This method sidesteps a key weakness of empirical studies, which lack an appropriate yardstick against which proxy measures can be assessed. Our model predicts that, far from being useless, the best proxy measures reliably track the strength of sexual selection across biologically realistic scenarios. The maximum intensity of precopulatory sexual selection s'max (the Jones index) outperformed all other indexes and was highly correlated with the strength of sexual selection. In contrast, the Bateman gradient and the opportunity for sexual selection were poor predictors of sexual selection, despite their continuing popularity.
Project description:Extrapair mating could drive sexual selection in socially monogamous species, but support for this hypothesis remains equivocal. We used lifetime fitness data and a unique model species, the dimorphic white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis), to examine how extrapair mating affects the potential for sexual selection. In this species, the morphs employ distinct reproductive strategies, with white males pursuing extrapair mating at higher rates than tan counterparts. Social and extrapair mating is disassortative by morph, with paternity exchange occurring primarily between pairs composed of white males and tan females. Bateman gradients and Jones indexes indicated stronger sexual selection via mate numbers in white males than in females and tan males, and generally did not differ between females as compared with tan males. Extrapair mating contributed more to the Bateman gradient for white than tan males, and white males also had higher variance in annual reproductive success. However, variance in lifetime reproductive success did not differ between morphs or sexes. Moreover, extrapair mating did not increase variance in male reproductive success relative to apparent patterns, and within-pair success accounted for much more variance than extrapair success. Thus, extrapair mating by white males increases Bateman gradients and the potential for sexual selection via mate numbers. However, our latter results support previous research suggesting that extrapair mating may play a limited role in driving the overall potential for sexual selection.
Project description:Sexual selection is generally predicted to act more strongly on males than on females. The Darwin-Bateman paradigm predicts that this should also hold for hermaphrodites. However, measuring this strength of selection is less straightforward when both sexual functions are performed throughout the organism's lifetime. Besides, quantifications of sexual selection are usually done during a short time window, while many animals store sperm and are long-lived. To explore whether the chosen time frame affects estimated measures of sexual selection, we recorded mating success and reproductive success over time, using a simultaneous hermaphrodite. Our results show that male sexual selection gradients are consistently positive. However, an individual's female mating success seems to negatively affect its own male reproductive success, an effect that only becomes visible several weeks into the experiment, highlighting that the time frame is crucial for the quantification and interpretation of sexual selection measures, an insight that applies to any iteroparous mating system.
Project description:Sexual selection is a fundamental evolutionary process but remains debated, particularly in the complexity of polyandrous populations where females mate with multiple males. This lack of resolution is partly because studies have largely ignored the structure of the sexual network, that is, the pattern of mate sharing. Here, we quantify what we call mating assortment with network analysis to specify explicitly the indirect as well as direct relationships between partners. We first review empirical studies, showing that mating assortment varies considerably in nature, due largely to basic properties of the sexual network (size and density) and partly to nonrandom patterns of mate sharing. We then use simulations to show how variation in mating assortment interacts with population-level polyandry to determine the strength of sexual selection on males. Controlling for average polyandry, positive mating assortment, arising when more polygynous males tend to mate with more polyandrous females, drastically decreases the intensity of precopulatory sexual selection on male mating success (Bateman gradient) and the covariance between male mating success and postcopulatory paternity share. Average polyandry independently weakened some measures of sexual selection and crucially also impacted sexual selection indirectly by constraining mating assortment through the saturation of the mating network. Mating assortment therefore represents a key-albeit overlooked-modulator of the strength of sexual selection. Our results show that jointly considering sexual network structure and average polyandry more precisely describes the strength of sexual selection.
Project description:Bateman's principle is not only used to explain sex differences in mating behaviour, but also to determine which sex has the greater opportunity for sexual selection. It predicts that the relationship between the number of mates and the number of offspring produced should be stronger for males than for females. Yet, it is unclear whether Bateman's principle holds in cooperatively breeding systems where the strength of selection on traits used in intrasexual competition is high in both sexes. We tested Bateman's principle in the cooperatively breeding superb starling (Lamprotornis superbus), finding that only females showed a significant, positive Bateman gradient. We also found that the opportunity for selection was on average higher in females, but that its strength and direction oscillated through time. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that sexual selection underlies the female trait elaboration observed in superb starlings and other cooperative breeders. Even though the Bateman gradient was steeper for females than for males, the year-to-year oscillation in the strength and direction of the opportunity for selection likely explains why cooperative breeders do not exhibit sexual role reversal. Thus, Bateman's principle may not hold in cooperative breeders where both sexes appear to be under mutually strong sexual selection.
Project description:The developmental environment can potentially alter the adult social environment and influence traits targeted by sexual selection such as body size. In this study, we manipulated larval density in male and female Drosophila melanogaster, which results in distinct adult size phenotypes-high (low) densities for small (large) adults-and measured sexual selection in experimental groups consisting of adult males and females from high, low, or a mixture of low and high larval densities. Overall, large adult females (those reared at low larval density) had more matings, more mates and produced more offspring than small females (those reared at high larval density). The number of offspring produced by females was positively associated with their number of mates (i.e. there was a positive female Bateman gradient) in social groups where female size was experimentally varied, likely due to the covariance between female productivity and mating rate. For males, we found evidence that the larval environment affected the relative importance of sexual selection via mate number (Bateman gradients), mate productivity, paternity share, and their covariances. Mate number and mate productivity were significantly reduced for small males in social environments where males were of mixed sizes, versus social environments where all males were small, suggesting that social heterogeneity altered selection on this subset of males. Males are commonly assumed to benefit from mating with large females, but in contrast to expectations we found that in groups where both the male and female size varied, males did not gain more offspring per mating with large females. Collectively, our results indicate sex-specific effects of the developmental environment on the operation of sexual selection, via both the phenotype of individuals, and the phenotype of their competitors and mates.
Project description:In 1948, Angus J. Bateman reported a stronger relationship between mating and reproductive success in male fruit flies compared with females, and concluded that selection should universally favour 'an undiscriminating eagerness in the males and a discriminating passivity in the females' to obtain mates. The conventional view of promiscuous, undiscriminating males and coy, choosy females has also been applied to our own species. Here, we challenge the view that evolutionary theory prescribes stereotyped sex roles in human beings, firstly by reviewing Bateman's principles and recent sexual selection theory and, secondly, by examining data on mating behaviour and reproductive success in current and historic human populations. We argue that human mating strategies are unlikely to conform to a single universal pattern.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Ever since Darwin, evolutionary biologists have studied sexual selection driving differences in appearance and behaviour between males and females. An unchallenged paradigm in such studies is that one sex (usually the male) signals its quality as a mate to the other sex (usually the female), who is choosy in accepting a partner. Here, we hypothesize that in polygamous species these roles change dynamically with the mating status of males and females, depending on direct reproductive costs and benefits of multiple matings, and on sperm competition. We test this hypothesis by assessing fitness costs and benefits of multiple matings in both males and females in a polygamous moth species, as in moths not males but females are the signalers and males are the responders. RESULTS:We found that multiple matings confer fitness costs and benefits for both sexes. Specifically, the number of matings did not affect the longevity of males or females, but only 67% of the males and 14% of the females mated successfully in all five nights. In addition, the female's reproductive output increased with multiple matings, although when paired with a new virgin male every night, more than 3 matings decreased her reproductive output, so that the Bateman gradient for females fit a quadratic model better than a linear model. The male's reproductive success was positively affected by the number of matings and a linear regression line best fit the data. Simulations of the effect of sperm competition showed that increasing last-male paternity increases the steepness of the male Bateman gradient and thus the male's relative fitness gain from additional mating. Irrespective of last-male paternity value, the female Bateman gradient is steeper than the male one for up to three matings. CONCLUSION:Our results suggest that choosiness in moths may well change throughout the mating season, with males being more choosy early in the season and females being more choosy after having mated at least three times. This life-history perspective on the costs and benefits of multiple matings for both sexes sheds new light on sexual selection forces acting on sexual signals and responses.
Project description:Recent debate has highlighted the importance of estimating both the strength of sexual selection on phenotypic traits, and the opportunity for sexual selection. We describe seasonal fluctuations in mating dynamics of Leptinotarsa undecimlineata (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). We compared several estimates of the opportunity for, and the strength of, sexual selection and male precopulatory competition over the reproductive season. First, using a null model, we suggest that the ratio between observed values of the opportunity for sexual selections and their expected value under random mating results in unbiased estimates of the actual nonrandom mating behavior of the population. Second, we found that estimates for the whole reproductive season often misrepresent the actual value at any given time period. Third, mating differentials on male size and mobility, frequency of male fighting and three estimates of the opportunity for sexual selection provide contrasting but complementary information. More intense sexual selection associated to male mobility, but not to male size, was observed in periods with high opportunity for sexual selection and high frequency of male fights. Fourth, based on parameters of spatial and temporal aggregation of female receptivity, we describe the mating system of L. undecimlineata as a scramble mating polygyny in which the opportunity for sexual selection varies widely throughout the season, but the strength of sexual selection on male size remains fairly weak, while male mobility inversely covaries with mating success. We suggest that different estimates for the opportunity for, and intensity of, sexual selection should be applied in order to discriminate how different behavioral and demographic factors shape the reproductive dynamic of populations.
Project description:Understanding the mating system and reproductive success of a species provides evidence for sexual selection. We examined the mating system and the reproductive success of captive adult black sea bream (Acanthopagrus schlegelii), using parentage assignment based on two microsatellites multiplex PCR systems, with 91.5% accuracy in a mixed family (29 sires, 25 dams, and 200 offspring). Based on the parentage result, we found that 93.1% of males and 100% of females participated in reproduction. A total of 79% of males and 92% of females mated with multiple partners (only 1 sire and 1 dam were monogamous), indicating that polygynandry best described the genetic mating system of black sea bream. For males, maximizing the reproductive success by multiple mating was accorded with the sexual selection theory while the material benefits hypothesis may contribute to explain the multiple mating for females. For both sexes, there was a significant correlation between mating success and reproductive success and the variance in reproductive success of males was higher than females. Variation in mating success is the greatest determinant to variation in reproductive success when the relationship is strongly positive. The opportunity for sexual selection of males was twice that of females, as well as the higher slope of the Bateman curve in males suggested that the intensity of intrasexual selection of males was higher than females. Thus, male-male competition would lead to the greater variation of mating success for males, which caused greater variation in reproductive success in males. The effective population number of breeders (N b) was 33, and the N b/N ratio was 0.61, slightly higher than the general ratio in polygynandrous fish populations which possibly because most individuals mated and had offspring with a low variance. The relatively high N b contributes to the maintenance of genetic diversity in farmed black sea bream populations.
Project description:Since Darwin's conception of sexual selection theory, scientists have struggled to identify the evolutionary forces underlying the pervasive differences between male and female behavior, morphology, and physiology. The Darwin-Bateman paradigm predicts that anisogamy imposes stronger sexual selection on males, which, in turn, drives the evolution of conventional sex roles in terms of female-biased parental care and male-biased sexual dimorphism. Although this paradigm forms the cornerstone of modern sexual selection theory, it still remains untested across the animal tree of life. This lack of evidence has promoted the rise of alternative hypotheses arguing that sex differences are entirely driven by environmental factors or chance. We demonstrate that, across the animal kingdom, sexual selection, as captured by standard Bateman metrics, is indeed stronger in males than in females and that it is evolutionarily tied to sex biases in parental care and sexual dimorphism. Our findings provide the first comprehensive evidence that Darwin's concept of conventional sex roles is accurate and refute recent criticism of sexual selection theory.