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Am Nat. 2014 Jan;183(1):62-73. doi: 10.1086/674072. Epub 2013 Nov 12.

Intralocus sexual conflict over wing length in a wild migratory bird.

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Department of Biology, Lund University, SE-223 62 Lund, Sweden.


Intralocus sexual conflict (ISC) occurs when males and females have different adaptive peaks but are constrained from evolving sexual dimorphism because of shared genes. Implications of this conflict on evolutionary dynamics in wild populations have not been investigated in detail. In comprehensive analyses of selection, heritability, and genetic correlations, we found evidence for an ISC over wing length, a key trait for flight performance and migration, in a long-term study of wild great reed warblers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus). We found moderate sexual dimorphism, high heritability, moderate sexually antagonistic selection, and strong positive cross-sex genetic correlation in wing length, together supporting the presence of ISC. A negative genetic correlation between male wing length and female fitness indicated that females inheriting alleles for longer wings from their male relatives also inherited lower fitness. Moreover, cross-sex genetic correlations imposed constraint on the predicted microevolutionary trajectory of wing length (based on selection gradients), especially in females where the predicted response was reversed. The degree of sexual dimorphism in wing length did not change over time, suggesting no sign of conflict resolution. Our study provides novel insight into how an ISC over a fitness trait can affect microevolution in a wild population under natural selection.

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