Pre- and postcopulatory sexual selection favor aggressive, young males in polyandrous groups of red junglefowl

Grant C. McDonald, Lewis G. Spurgin, Eleanor A. Fairfield, David S. Richardson, Tommaso Pizzari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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A challenge in evolutionary biology is to understand the operation of sexual selection on males in polyandrous groups, where sexual selection occurs before and after mating. Here, we combine fine-grained behavioral information (>41,000 interactions) with molecular parentage data to study sexual selection in replicated, age-structured groups of polyandrous red junglefowl, Gallus gallus. Male reproductive success was determined by the number of females mated (precopulatory sexual selection) and his paternity share, which was driven by the polyandry of his female partners (postcopulatory sexual selection). Pre- and postcopulatory components of male reproductive success covaried positively; males with high mating success also had high paternity share. Two male phenotypes affected male pre- and postcopulatory performance: average aggressiveness toward rival males and age. Aggressive males mated with more females and more often with individual females, resulting in higher sexual exclusivity. Similarly, younger males mated with more females and more often with individual females, suffering less intense sperm competition than older males. Older males had a lower paternity share even allowing for their limited sexual exclusivity, indicating they may produce less competitive ejaculates. These results show that—in these populations—postcopulatory sexual selection reinforces precopulatory sexual selection, consistently promoting younger and more aggressive males.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1653-1669
Number of pages17
Issue number6
Early online date5 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • Aggression
  • Gallus
  • polyandry
  • reproductive senescence
  • sexual networks
  • sperm competition

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