The impact of sexual selection on the adaptive process remains unclear. On the one hand, sexual selection might hinder adaptation by favouring costly traits and preferences that reduce nonsexual fitness. On the other hand, condition dependence of success in sexual selection may accelerate adaptation. Here, we used replicate populations of Drosophila melanogaster to artificially select on male desiccation resistance while manipulating the opportunity for precopulatory sexual selection in a factorial design. Following five generations of artificial selection, we measured the desiccation resistance of males and females to test whether the addition of sexual selection accelerated adaptation. We found a significant interaction between the effects of natural selection and sexual selection: desiccation resistance was highest in populations where sexual selection was allowed to operate. Despite only selecting on males, we also found a correlated response in females. These results provide empirical support for the idea that sexual selection can accelerate the rate of adaptation.
Data from: Experimental evidence for accelerated adaptation to desiccation through sexual selection on males