Experimental evolution exposes female and male responses to sexual selection and conflict in Tribolium castaneum

Lukasz Michalczyk, Anna L. Millard, Oliver Y. Martin, Alyson J. Lumley, Brent C. Emerson, Matthew J. G. Gage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


Between-individual variance in potential reproductive rate theoretically creates a load in reproducing populations by driving sexual selection of male traits for winning competitions, and female traits for resisting the costs of multiple mating. Here, using replicated experimental evolution under divergent operational sex ratios (OSR, 9:1 or 1:6 ?:?) we empirically identified the parallel reproductive fitness consequences for females and males in the promiscuous flour beetle Tribolium castaneum. Our results revealed clear evidence that sexual conflict resides within the T. castaneum mating system. After 20 generations of selection, females from female-biased OSRs became vulnerable to multiple mating, and showed a steep decrease in reproductive fitness with an increasing number of control males. In contrast, females from male-biased OSRs showed no change in reproductive fitness, irrespective of male numbers. The divergence in reproductive output was not explained by variation in female mortality. Parallel assays revealed that males also responded to experimental evolution: individuals from male-biased OSRs obtained 27% greater reproductive success across 7-day competition for females with a control male rival, compared to males from the female-biased lines. Subsequent assays suggest that these differences were not due to postcopulatory sperm competitiveness, but to precopulatory/copulatory competitive male mating behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-724
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2011

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