Evolutionary Response to Sexual Selection in Male Genital Morphology

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    Abstract

    Male genital morphology is characterized by two striking and general patterns of morphological variation: rapid evolutionary divergence in shape and complexity, and relatively low scaling relationships with body size. These patterns of variation have been ascribed to the action of sexual selection [1] and [2]. Among species, monogamous taxa tend to have relatively less complex male genital morphology than do polygamous taxa [3]. However, although variation in male genital morphology can be associated with variation in mating [4] and [5] and fertilization success [6], [7], [8], [9] and [10], there is no direct evidence that sexual selection generates the evolutionary changes in male genital shape that underlie observed macroevolutionary patterns. Moreover, the hypothesis that sexual selection acts to reduce the scaling relationship between body and genital size is based entirely on the theoretical argument that male genitalia should be selected to provide an appropriate mechanical and/or stimulatory fit to the most commonly encountered female genitalia [2] and [11]. Here, using the dung beetle Onthophagus taurus, we combine the power of experimental evolution with multivariate selection and quantitative genetic analyses to provide the most comprehensive evidence available of the form and evolutionary consequences of sexual selection acting on male genital morphology.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1442-1446
    JournalCurrent Biology
    Volume19
    Issue number17
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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