Natural selection increases female fitness by reversing the exaggeration of a male sexually selected trait

Kensuke Okada, Masako Katsuki, Manmohan D. Sharma, Katsuya Kiyose, Tomokazu Seko, Yasukazu Okada, Alastair J. Wilson, David J. Hosken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Theory shows how sexual selection can exaggerate male traits beyond naturally selected optima and also how natural selection can ultimately halt trait elaboration. Empirical evidence supports this theory, but to our knowledge, there have been no experimental evolution studies directly testing this logic, and little examination of possible associated effects on female fitness. Here we use experimental evolution of replicate populations of broad-horned flour beetles to test for effects of sex-specific predation on an exaggerated sexually selected male trait (the mandibles), while also testing for effects on female lifetime reproductive success. We find that populations subjected to male-specific predation evolve smaller sexually selected mandibles and this indirectly increases female fitness, seemingly through intersexual genetic correlations we document. Predation solely on females has no effects. Our findings support fundamental theory, but also reveal unforseen outcomes—the indirect effect on females—when natural selection targets sex-limited sexually selected characters.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3420
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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