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Proc Biol Sci. 2017 Aug 16;284(1860). pii: 20170441. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.0441.

Male relatedness and familiarity are required to modulate male-induced harm to females in Drosophila.

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Edward Grey Institute, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
Edward Grey Institute, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution group, Instituto Cavanilles of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain.


Males compete over mating and fertilization, and often harm females in the process. Inclusive fitness theory predicts that increasing relatedness within groups of males may relax competition and discourage male harm of females as males gain indirect benefits. Recent studies in Drosophila melanogaster are consistent with these predictions, and have found that within-group male relatedness increases female fitness, though others have found no effects. Importantly, these studies did not fully disentangle male genetic relatedness from larval familiarity, so the extent to which modulation of harm to females is explained by male familiarity remains unclear. Here we performed a fully factorial design, isolating the effects of male relatedness and larval familiarity on female harm. While we found no differences in male courtship or aggression, there was a significant interaction between male genetic relatedness and familiarity on female reproduction and survival. Relatedness among males increased female lifespan, reproductive lifespan and overall reproductive success, but only when males were familiar. By showing that both male relatedness and larval familiarity are required to modulate female harm, these findings reconcile previous studies, shedding light on the potential role of indirect fitness effects on sexual conflict and the mechanisms underpinning kin recognition in fly populations.


Drosophila; inclusive fitness; kin selection; sexual conflict; sexual selection; social behaviour

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