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PLoS One. 2007 Aug 15;2(8):e744.

The intersexual genetic correlation for lifetime fitness in the wild and its implications for sexual selection.

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  • 1Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.



The genetic benefits of mate choice are limited by the degree to which male and female fitness are genetically correlated. If the intersexual correlation for fitness is small or negative, choosing a highly fit mate does not necessarily result in high fitness offspring.


Using an animal-model approach on data from a pedigreed population of over 7,000 collared flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis), we estimate the intersexual genetic correlation in Lifetime Reproductive Success (LRS) in a natural population to be negative in sign (-0.85+/-0.6). Simulations show this estimate to be robust in sign to the effects of extra-pair parentage. The genetic benefits in this population are further limited by a low level of genetic variation for fitness in males.


The potential for indirect sexual selection is nullified by sexual antagonistic fitness effects in this natural population. Our findings and the scarce evidence from other studies suggest that the intersexual genetic correlation for lifetime fitness may be very low in nature. We argue that this form of conflict can, in general, both constrain and maintain sexual selection, depending on the sex-specific additive genetic variances in lifetime fitness.

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