Adaptations to sexual selection and sexual conflict: insights from experimental evolution and artificial selection

Dominic A. Edward, Claudia Fricke, Tracey Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Artificial selection and experimental evolution document natural selection under controlled conditions. Collectively, these techniques are continuing to provide fresh and important insights into the genetic basis of evolutionary change, and are now being employed to investigate mating behaviour. Here, we focus on how selection techniques can reveal the genetic basis of post-mating adaptations to sexual selection and sexual conflict. Alteration of the operational sex ratio of adult Drosophila over just a few tens of generations can lead to altered ejaculate allocation patterns and the evolution of resistance in females to the costly effects of elevated mating rates. We provide new data to show how male responses to the presence of rivals can evolve. For several traits, the way in which males responded to rivals was opposite in lines selected for male-biased, as opposed to female-biased, adult sex ratio. This shows that the manipulation of the relative intensity of intra- and inter-sexual selection can lead to replicable and repeatable effects on mating systems, and reveals the potential for significant contemporary evolutionary change. Such studies, with important safeguards, have potential utility for understanding sexual selection and sexual conflict across many taxa. We discuss how artificial selection studies combined with genomics will continue to deepen our knowledge of the evolutionary principles first laid down by Darwin 150 years ago.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2541-2548
Number of pages8
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1552
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2010

Cite this