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Environmental quality alters female costs and benefits of evolving under enforced monogamy

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Abstract

Background
Currently many habitats suffer from quality loss due to environmental change. As a consequence, evolutionary trajectories might shift due to environmental effects and potentially increase extinction risk of resident populations. Nevertheless, environmental variation has rarely been incorporated in studies of sexual selection and sexual conflict, although local environments and individuals’ condition undoubtedly influence costs and benefits. Here, we utilise polyandrous and monogamous selection lines of flour beetles, which evolved in presence or absence of sexual selection for 39 generations. We specifically investigated effects of low vs. standard food quality (i.e. stressful vs. benign environments) on reproductive success of cross pairs between beetles from the contrasting female and male selection histories to assess gender effects driving fitness.

Results
We found a clear interaction of food quality, male selection history and female selection history. Monogamous females generally performed more poorly than polyandrous counterparts, but reproductive success was shaped by selection history of their mates and environmental quality. When monogamous females were paired with polyandrous males in the standard benign environment, females seemed to incur costs, possibly due to sexual conflict. In contrast, in the novel stressful environment, monogamous females profited from mating with polyandrous males, indicating benefits of sexual selection outweigh costs.

Conclusions
Our findings suggest that costs and benefits of sexually selected adaptations in both sexes can be profoundly altered by environmental quality. With regard to understanding possible impacts of environmental change, our results further show that the ecology of mating systems and associated selection pressures should be considered in greater detail.

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Original languageEnglish
Article number21
JournalBMC Evolutionary Biology
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2014
Peer-reviewedYes

Bibliographic note

© 2014 Grazer et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated

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