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Am Nat. 2009 Feb;173(2):176-87. doi: 10.1086/595841.

Sexually antagonistic selection, sexual dimorphism, and the resolution of intralocus sexual conflict.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755, USA.


Males and females share most of their genomes and express many of the same traits, yet the sexes often have markedly different selective optima for these shared traits. This sexually antagonistic (SA) selection generates intralocus sexual conflict that is thought to be resolved through the evolution of sexual dimorphism. However, we currently know little about the prevalence of SA selection, the components of fitness that generate sexual antagonism, or the relationship between sexual dimorphism and current SA selection. We reviewed published studies to address these questions, using 424 selection estimates representing 89 traits from 34 species. Males and females often differed substantially in the direction and magnitude of selection on shared traits, although statistically significant SA selection was relatively uncommon. Sexual selection generated stronger sexual antagonism than fecundity or viability selection, and these individual components of fitness tended to reinforce one another to generate even stronger sexual antagonism for net fitness. Traits exhibiting strong sexual dimorphism exhibited greater SA selection than did weakly dimorphic traits, although this pattern was not significant after we controlled for the inclusion of multiple traits nested within species. Our results suggest that intralocus sexual conflict often may persist despite the evolution of sexual dimorphism.

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