Monday, January 16, 2012

Lab-meeting on sexual selection, sexual conflict and cross-sexual transfer

It is time for a last lab-meeting before I go to South Africa for field work for three weeks. After a discussion with Jessica Abbott, I thought it would be fun to diskuss a recent conceptual paper by Russel Bonduryansky entitled: "Sexual Selection and Conflict as Engines of Ecological Diversification". You will find a copy of this paper here, and the Abstract below.

Due to other committments, I suggest we meet at 13.30,  not 13.00, in "Argumentet" on Wednesday January 18 2012.Looking forward to see you all and an interesting discussion.

Abstract: Ecological diversification presents an enduring puzzle: how do novel ecological strategies evolve in organisms that are already adapted to their ecological niche? Most attempts to answer this question posit a primary role for genetic drift, which could carry populations through or around fitness "valleys" representing maladaptive intermediate phenotypes between alternative niches. Sexual selection and conflict are thought to play an ancillary role by initiating reproductive isolation and thereby facilitating divergence in ecological traits through genetic drift or local adaptation. Here, I synthesize theory and evidence suggesting that sexual selection and conflict could play a more central role in the evolution and diversification of ecological strategies through the co-optation of sexual traits for viability-related functions. This hypothesis rests on three main premises, all of which are supported by theory and consistent with the available evidence. First, sexual selection and conflict often act at cross-purposes to viability selection, thereby displacing populations from the local viability optimum. Second, sexual traits can serve as preadaptations for novel viability-related functions. Third, ancestrally sex-limited sexual traits can be transferred between sexes. Consequently, by allowing populations to explore a broad phenotypic space around the current viability optimum, sexual selection and conflict could act as powerful drivers of ecological adaptation and diversification.


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