Manipulation of feeding regime alters sexual dimorphism for lifespan and reduces sexual conflict in Drosophila melanogaster

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Abstract

Sexual dimorphism for lifespan (SDL) is widespread, but poorly understood. A leading hypothesis, which we test here, is that strong SDL can reduce sexual conflict, by allowing each sex to maximise its sex-specific fitness. We used replicated experimental evolution lines of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, which had been maintained for over 360 generations on either unpredictable ‘Random’ or predictable ‘Regular’ feeding regimes. This evolutionary manipulation of feeding regime led to robust, enhanced SDL in Random over control, Regular lines. Enhanced SDL was associated with a significant increase in the fitness of focal males, tested with wild type females. This was due to sex-specific changes to male life history, manifested as increased early reproductive output and reduced survival. In contrast, focal female fitness, tested with wild type males, did not differ across regimes. Hence increased SDL was associated with a reduction in sexual conflict, which increased male fitness and maintained fitness in females. Differences in SDL were not associated with developmental time or developmental survival. Overall, the results showed that the expression of enhanced SDL, resulting from experimental evolution of feeding regimes, was associated with male-specific changes in life history, leading to increased fitness and reduced sexual conflict.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20170391
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume284
Issue number1854
Early online date3 May 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2017

Keywords

  • Life history
  • sex-specific fitness
  • experimental evolution
  • nutrition
  • fitness

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