Metapopulation structure modulates sexual antagonism

E. Rodriguez-Exposito, F. Garcia-Gonzalez

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

5 Citations (Web of Science)


Despite the far-reaching evolutionary implications of sexual conflict, the effects of metapopulation structure, when populations are subdivided into several demes connected to some degree by migration, on sexual conflict dynamics are unknown. Here, we used experimental evolution in an insect model system, the seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus, to assess the independent and interacting effects of selection histories associated with mating system (monogamy vs. polygamy) and population subdivision on sexual conflict evolution. We confirm traditional predictions from sexual conflict theory by revealing increased resistance to male harm in females from populations with a history of intense sexual selection (polygamous populations) compared to females from populations with a history of relaxed sexual selection (monogamous populations). However, selection arising from metapopulation structure reversed the classic pattern of sexually antagonistic coevolution and led to reduced resistance in females from polygamous populations. These results underscore that population spatial structure moderates sexual selection and sexual conflict, and more broadly, that the evolution of sexual conflict is contingent on ecological context. The findings also have implications for population dynamics, conservation biology, and biological control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-358
Number of pages15
JournalEvolution Letters
Issue number4
Early online date30 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


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