Males harm females less when competing with familiar relatives

Samuel J. Lymbery, Leigh W. Simmons

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    Sexual conflict occurs when reproductive partners have different fitness optima, and can lead to the evolution of traits in one sex that inflict fitness costs on the opposite sex. Recently, it has been proposed that antagonism by males towards females should be reduced when they compete with relatives, because reducing the future productivity of a female would result in an indirect fitness cost for a harmful male.We tested this prediction in the seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus, the males of which harm females with genital spines and pre-copulatory harassment. We compared lifespan, lifetime egg production and lifetime offspring production among females housed with groups of males that varied in their familiarity and relatedness. Females produced significantly more eggs and offspring when grouped with males who were both related and familiar to each other. Therewas no effect of male relatedness or familiarity on female lifespan. Our results suggest that males plastically adjust their harmfulness towards females in response to changes in inclusive fitness payoffs, and that in this species both genetic relatedness and social familiarity mediate this effect.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number20171984
    JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
    Issue number1867
    Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2017


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