Royal Society Publishing

Post–copulatory sexual selection and female fitness in Scathophaga stercoraria

Oliver Y. Martin, David J. Hosken, Paul I. Ward


Whether sexual selection increases or decreases female fitness is determined by the occurrence and relative importance of sexual–conflict processes and the ability of females to choose high–quality males. Experimentally enforced polyandry and monogamy have previously been shown to cause rapid evolution in the yellow dung fly Scathophaga stercoraria. Flies from polyandrous lines invested more in reproductive tissue, and this investment influenced paternity in sperm competition, but came at a cost to immune function. While some fitness consequences of enforced polyandry or monogamy have been examined when flies mate multiply, the consequences for female fitness when singly copulated remain unexplored. Under a good–genes scenario females from polyandrous lines should be of higher general quality and should outperform females from monogamous lines even with a single copulation. Under sexual conflict, costly adaptations will afford no advantages when females are allowed to mate only once. We investigate the lifetime reproductive success and longevity of females evolving under enforced monogamy or polyandry when mating once with males from these selection regimes. Females from polyandrous lines were found to have lower fitness than their monogamous counterparts when mating once. They died earlier and produced significantly fewer eggs and offspring. These results suggest that sexual conflict probably drove evolution under enforced polyandry as female fitness did not increase overall as expected with purely good–genes effects.

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