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Sexual selection in Drosophila simulans
Sharma, Manmohan Dev
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
Over the last 100 years sexual selection has advanced into a vast field of theoretical and empirical research. While Darwin’s idea of female preference being an integral mechanism of sexual selection is no longer debated, our understanding of female preference is still very limited. For example, we know little about the genetic variation in female preference, and the costs of preference over and above the costs of mating with particular male phenotypes. Additionally, while costs of mate choice are well documented, the benefits of mate choice and their implications are still debated. For example, controversy exists over the inevitability of good gene benefits and their capability to promote adaptive sexual selection. Furthermore, the adaptiveness of sexual selection itself is debated. Our understanding of the traits involved in mate choice is also far from complete. Here I investigated aspects of sexual selection in Drosophila simulans, employing a range of behavioural approaches along with artificial selection and environmental manipulations. The findings presented here indicate that female preference can evolve when directly selected on, and that preference itself is not particularly costly. There was also no conclusive evidence for the good genes benefits of mate choice in D. simulans. These benefits are considered crucial in promoting the adaptiveness of sexual selection, and although we found sexual selection to be adaptive under some test conditions it was not adaptive in other conditions. Our investigations into traits involved in mate choice established sex-specific genetic variation in cuticular hydrocarbons and the genetic architecture of this trait was found to sex-specific evolution of cuticular hydrocarbons under natural and sexual selection. Additionally, we found that a secondary sexual character, the sex combs was positively allometric – just like most signalling and weapon traits, and there was no association between trait fluctuating asymmetry and trait size. These findings collectively indicate that sexual selection in D. simulans is consistent with classical models of this process.
Taylor ML, Sharma MD, Hosken DJ. 2009. Sexual selection in flies: a comparison of Drosophila simulans and D. melanogaster. Animal Biology 59: 391-402.
Sharma MD, Tregenza T, Hosken DJ. 2010. Female mate preferences in Drosophila simulans: Evolution and costs. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 23: 1672-1679.
Okada K, Blount JD, Sharma MD, Snook RR, Hosken DJ. 2010. Male attractiveness, fertility and susceptibility to oxidative stress are influenced by inbreeding in Drosophila simulans. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 24: 363-371.
Hosken, David J
PhD in Biological Sciences