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Science. 2011 Nov 18;334(6058):972-4. doi: 10.1126/science.1208708.

Negative frequency-dependent selection of sexually antagonistic alleles in Myodes glareolus.

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Centre of Excellence in Evolutionary Research, Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland.


Sexually antagonistic genetic variation, where optimal values of traits are sex-dependent, is known to slow the loss of genetic variance associated with directional selection on fitness-related traits. However, sexual antagonism alone is not sufficient to maintain variation indefinitely. Selection of rare forms within the sexes can help to conserve genotypic diversity. We combined theoretical models and a field experiment with Myodes glareolus to show that negative frequency-dependent selection on male dominance maintains variation in sexually antagonistic alleles. In our experiment, high-dominance male bank voles were found to have low-fecundity sisters, and vice versa. These results show that investigations of sexually antagonistic traits should take into account the effects of social interactions on the interplay between ecology and evolution, and that investigations of genetic variation should not be conducted solely under laboratory conditions.

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