Endless forms of sexual selection
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2019

In recent years, the field of sexual selection has exploded, with advances in theoretical and empirical research complementing each other in exciting ways. This perspective piece is the product of a "stock-taking'' workshop on sexual selection and sexual conflict. Our aim is to identify and deliberate on outstanding questions and to stimulate discussion rather than provide a comprehensive overview of the entire field. These questions are organized into four thematic sections we deem essential to the field. First we focus on the evolution of mate choice and mating systems. Variation in mate quality can generate both competition and choice in the opposite sex, with implications for the evolution of mating systems. Limitations on mate choice may dictate the importance of direct vs. indirect benefits in mating decisions and consequently, mating systems, especially with regard to polyandry. Second, we focus on how sender and receiver mechanisms shape signal design. Mediation of honest signal content likely depends on integration of temporally variable social and physiological costs that are challenging to measure. We view the neuroethology of sensory and cognitive receiver biases as the main key to signal form and the 'aesthetic sense' proposed by Darwin. Since a receiver bias is sufficient to both initiate and drive ornament or armament exaggeration, without a genetically correlated or even coevolving receiver, this may be the appropriate 'null model' of sexual selection. Thirdly, we focus on the genetic architecture of sexually selected traits. Despite advances in modern molecular techniques, the number and identity of genes underlying performance, display and secondary sexual traits remains largely unknown. In-depth investigations into the genetic basis of sexual dimorphism in the context of long-term field studies will reveal constraints and trajectories of sexually selected trait evolution. Finally, we focus on sexual selection and conflict as drivers of speciation. Population divergence and speciation are often influenced by an interplay between sexual and natural selection. The extent to which sexual selection promotes or counteracts population divergence may vary depending on the genetic architecture of traits as well as the covariance between mating competition and local adaptation. Additionally, post-copulatory processes, such as selection against heterospecific sperm, may influence the importance of sexual selection in speciation. We propose that efforts to resolve these four themes can catalyze conceptual progress in the field of sexual selection, and we offer potential avenues of research to advance this progress.


Sexual selection

Mate choice

Sensory bias

Signal honesty

Sexual conflict

Sperm competition


Cryptic female choice



Willow R. Lindsay

Göteborgs universitet

Staffan Andersson

Göteborgs universitet

Badreddine Bererhi

Göteborgs universitet

Jacob Hoglund

Uppsala universitet

Arild Johnsen

Universitetet i Oslo

Charlotta Kvarnemo

Göteborgs universitet

Erica H. Leder

Universitetet i Oslo

Jan T. Lifjeld

Universitetet i Oslo

Calum E. Ninnes

Göteborgs universitet

Mats Olsson

Göteborgs universitet

Geoff A. Parker

University of Liverpool

Tommaso Pizzari

University of Oxford

Anna Qvarnstrom

Uppsala universitet

Rebecca J. Safran

University of Colorado at Boulder

Ola Svensson

Södertörns högskola

Scott Edwards

Harvard University

Chalmers, Matematiska vetenskaper


21678359 (eISSN)

Vol. 7 e7988









Mer information

Senast uppdaterat