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Evolution. 2005 May;59(5):1104-18.

Concurrent natural and sexual selection in wild male sockeye salmon, Oncorhynchus nerka.

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  • 1School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences, University of Washington, Box 355020, Seattle, Washington 98195-5020, USA.


Concurrent natural and sexual selection have been inferred from laboratory and comparative studies in a number of taxa, but are rarely measured in natural populations. Because the interaction of these two general categories of selection may be complex when they occur simultaneously, empirical evidence from natural populations would help us to understand this interaction and probably give us greater insight into each separate episode as well. In male sockeye salmon, sexual selection for larger body size has been indicated in both deep and shallow water habitats. However, in shallow habitats male sockeye are generally smaller and less deep-bodied than in deep habitats, a difference that has been ascribed to natural selection. We measured concurrent natural and sexual selection in two years on breeding male sockeye salmon with respect to body size, body shape, and time of arrival to the breeding grounds. Natural selection was variable in effect and sexual selection was variable in intensity in these two years. The patterns of selection also appear to be interdependent; areas where predation on spawning adults is not intense have yielded different patterns of sexual selection than those measured here. It appears that some of the body shape differences in sockeye salmon associated with different spawning habitats, which were previously attributed to selective mortality, may be a result of different patterns of sexual selection in the different habitats. Total selection resulting from the combination of both natural and sexual selection was less intense than either natural or sexual selection in most cases. Measurement of concurrent selection episodes in nature may help us to understand whether the pattern of differential sexual selection is common, and whether observed patterns of habitat-related differentiation may be due to differences in sexual selection.

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