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Adaptation versus pleiotropy: why do males harm their mates?

Summary: Adaptation versus pleiotropy: why do males
harm their mates?
Edward H. Morrow,a
Go¨ran Arnqvist,a
and Scott Pitnickb
Department of Animal Ecology, Evolutionary Biology Centre, University of Uppsala, Norbyva¨gen
18D, SE-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden, and b
Department of Biology, Syracuse University, 108 College
Place, Syracuse, NY 13244, USA
Recent studies have documented male traits that cause physical harm to their mates during copulation. Such harm has been
suggested to either (1) arise as a negative pleiotropic side effect of adaptations that give males a reproductive advantage in
another context or (2) represent a male adaptation per se. In other words, male traits that cause harm to their mates may become
established despite the fact that they cause harm or because they do so. A critical assumption of the latter hypotheses is that
females respond to infliction of harm in a manner that is beneficial to their mates: by reducing their propensity to remate and/or
by elevating their current reproductive rate. In the present study, we test this assumption by experimentally inflicting various
forms of harm to females immediately after copulation in three different insect species. We reveal that females do not delay
remating or increase their reproductive rate after being harmed but, on the contrary, remate sooner and lay fewer eggs in some
cases. We conclude that selection for infliction of harm to females per se is unlikely. Instead, available empirical evidence supports
the hypothesis that harmful male traits arise as negative pleiotropic side effects of adaptations that yield other selective advantages


Source: Arnqvist, Göran - Department of Animal Ecology, Uppsala Universitet
Pitnick, Scott - Department of Biology, Syracuse University


Collections: Biology and Medicine; Environmental Sciences and Ecology