Dietary stress increases the total opportunity for sexual selection and modifies selection on condition-dependent traits



Although it is often expected that adverse environmental conditions depress the expression of condition-dependent sexually-selected traits, the full consequences of environmental change for the action of sexual selection, in terms of the opportunity for total sexual selection and patterns of phenotypic selection, are unknown. Here we show that dietary stress in guppies, Poecilia reticulata, reduces the expression of several sexually-selected traits and increases the opportunity for total sexual selection (standardized variance in reproductive success) in males. Furthermore, our results show that dietary stress modulates the relative importance of precopulatory (mating success) and postcopulatory (relative fertilization success) sexual selection, and that the form of multivariate sexual selection (linear vs. nonlinear) depends on dietary regime. Overall, our results are consistent with a pattern of heightened directional selection on condition-dependent sexually-selected traits under environmental stress, and underscore the importance of sexual selection in shaping adaptation in a changing world.
Date made available15 Dec 2019

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