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Evolution. 2003 Jun;57(6):1223-36.

Perspective: sexual conflict and sexual selection: chasing away paradigm shifts.

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  • 1Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Skarar PO Box 234, SE-532 31, Sweden.


Traditional models of sexual selection propose that partner choice increases both average male and average female fitness in a population. Recent theoretical and empirical work, however, has stressed that sexual conflict may be a potent broker of sexual selection. When the fitness interests of males and females diverge, a reproductive strategy that increases the fitness of one sex may decrease the fitness of the other sex. The chase-away hypothesis proposes that sexual conflict promotes sexually antagonistic, rather than mutualistic, coevolution, whereby manipulative reproductive strategies in one sex are counteracted by the evolution of resistance to such strategies in the other sex. In this paper, we consider the criteria necessary to demonstrate the chase-away hypothesis. Specifically, we review sexual conflict with particular emphasis on the chase-away hypothesis; discuss the problems associated with testing the predictions of the chase-away hypothesis and the extent to which these predictions and the predictions of traditional models of sexual selection are mutually exclusive; discuss misconceptions and mismeasures of sexual conflict; and suggest an alternative approach to demonstrate sexual conflict, measure the intensity of sexually antagonistic selection in a population, and elucidate the coevolutionary trajectories of the sexes.

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