The evolution of female mate choice by sexual conflict

Sergey Gavrilets, Göran Arnqvist, Urban Friberg

Abstract

Although empirical evidence has shown that many male traits have evolved via sexual selection by female mate choice, our understanding of the adaptive value of female mating preferences is still very incomplete. It has recently been suggested that female mate choice may result from females evolving resistance rather than attraction to males, but this has been disputed. Here, we develop a quantitative genetic model showing that sexual conflict over mating indeed results in the joint evolution of costly female mate choice and exaggerated male traits under a wide range of circumstances. In contrast to traditional explanations of costly female mate choice, which rely on indirect genetic benefits, our model shows that mate choice can be generated as a side–effect of females evolving to reduce the direct costs of mating.

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