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Sensory exploitation and sexual conflict Goran Arnqvist*

Summary: Sensory exploitation and sexual conflict
Go¨ran Arnqvist*
Animal Ecology, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Evolutionary Biology Centre,
University of Uppsala, Norbyva¨gen 18d, 752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
Much of the literature on male­female coevolution concerns the processes by which male traits and
female preferences for these can coevolve and be maintained by selection. There has been less explicit
focus on the origin of male traits and female preferences. Here, I argue that it is important to
distinguish origin from subsequent coevolution and that insights into the origin can help us
appreciate the relative roles of various coevolutionary processes for the evolution of diversity in sexual
dimorphism. I delineate four distinct scenarios for the origin of male traits and female preferences
that build on past contributions, two of which are based on pre-existing variation in quality indicators
among males and two on exploitation of pre-existing sensory biases among females. Recent empirical
research, and theoretical models, suggest that origin by sensory exploitation has been widespread.
I argue that this points to a key, but perhaps transient, role for sexually antagonistic coevolution
(SAC) in the subsequent evolutionary elaboration of sexual traits, because (i) sensory exploitation is
often likely to be initially costly for individuals of the exploited sex and (ii) the subsequent evolution
of resistance to sensory exploitation should often be associated with costs due to selective constraints.
A review of a few case studies is used to illustrate these points. Empirical data directly relevant to the
costs of being sensory exploited and the costs of evolving resistance is largely lacking, and I stress that
such data would help determining the general importance of sexual conflict and SAC for the


Source: Arnqvist, Göran - Department of Animal Ecology, Uppsala Universitet


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology