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Evolution. 2005 Jan;59(1):138-51.

Sexual selection, genetic architecture, and the condition dependence of body shape in the sexually dimorphic fly Prochyliza xanthostoma (Piophilidae).

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  • 1Department of Zoology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G5, Canada.


The hypothesis that sexual selection drives the evolution of condition dependence is not firmly supported by empirical evidence, and the process remains poorly understood. First, even though sexual competition typically involves multiple traits, studies usually compare a single sexual trait with a single "control" trait, ignoring variation among sexual traits and raising the possibility of sampling bias. Second, few studies have addressed the genetic basis of condition dependence. Third, even though condition dependence is thought to result from a form of sex-specific epistasis, the evolution of condition dependence has never been considered in relation to intralocus sexual conflict. We argue that condition dependence may weaken intersexual genetic correlations and facilitate the evolution of sexual dimorphism. To address these questions, we manipulated an environmental factor affecting condition (larval diet) and examined its effects on four sexual and four nonsexual traits in Prochyliza xanthostoma adults. As predicted by theory, the strength of condition dependence increased with degree of exaggeration among male traits. Body shape was more condition dependent in males than in females and, perhaps as a result, genetic and environmental effects on body shape were congruent in males, but not in females. However, of the four male sexual traits, only head length was significantly larger in high-condition males after controlling for body size. Strong condition dependence was associated with reduced intersexual genetic correlation. However, homologous male and female traits exhibited correlated responses to condition, suggesting an intersexual genetic correlation for condition dependence itself. Our findings support the role of sexual selection in the evolution of condition dependence, but reveal considerable variation in condition dependence among sexual traits. It is not clear whether the evolution of condition dependence has mitigated or exacerbated intralocus sexual conflict in this species.

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