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Sexual selection and the benefits of mating with attractive males in Drosophila simulans
Taylor, Michelle Louise
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Transferred copyright agreements apply to the published versions of these thesis chapters, however, the thesis submitted here contains revised editions of the published chapter, which has been permitted by the copyright holders.
Reason for embargo
Last two chapters are currently under peer-review for publication.
Over the last century, sexual selection has grown from a controversial theory into a vast field of theoretical and empirical research. Although Darwin outlined two major mechanisms within his theory, male-male competition and female mate choice, the latter has promoted a wealth of research by virtue of its complexity. Despite decades of research into how female preferences and sexually selected traits have evolved, there is still little consensus as to why females prefer the males they do. Preferences are thought to evolve from either direct selection on the preference, as females themselves benefit directly from mating with a preferred male, or through indirect selection on the preference via offspring fitness. In all cases however, female preferences should compensate for the costs of discriminating between potential mates, if they are to remain overall beneficial. The fitness benefits of mating with preferred males were investigated here using the fruitfly Drosophila simulans, employing a range of behavioural, phenotypic and quantitative genetic approaches. The findings presented here indicate that female Drosophila simulans do not gain directly from mating with a preferred male. Multiple mating can increase fecundity, although costs from male harassment can reduce the net benefit. They also indicate that females may benefit indirectly from mating with attractive males as attractiveness is heritable and sons of preferred males are themselves preferred. There is also evidence that attractive males are successful in both the pre- and post-copulatory sense, as preferred males are better sperm competitors than less-preferred males. However, although there appear to be benefits from preferred males via their sons, there appear to be no benefits from males via their daughters’ fitness. These findings collectively indicate that female preferences in Drosophila simulans are driven by indirectly selected benefits (via Fisherian sons), and that females benefit directly from mating multiply.
The European Social Fund
Current Biology (2007) 17: R959-960
Current Biology (2008) 18: R553-R554
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology (2008) 62: 721-728
Animal Behaviour (2008) 76: 963-970
Hosken, David J
PhD in Biological Sciences