Biology Faculty Articles
The Role of Multilevel Selection in the Evolution of Sexual Conflict in the Water Strider Aquarius remigis
Multilevel selection, Group Selection, Water strider, Sexual conflict, Altruism, Contextual analysis
In evolution, exploitative strategies often create a paradox in which the most successful individual strategy “within” the group is also the most detrimental strategy “for” the group, potentially resulting in extinction. With regard to sexual conflict, the overexploitation of females by harmful males can yield similar consequences. Despite these evolutionary implications, little research has addressed why sexual conflict does not ultimately drive populations to extinction. One possibility is that groups experiencing less sexual conflict are more productive than groups with greater conflict. However, most studies of sexual conflict are conducted in a single isolated group, disregarding the potential for selection among groups. We observed Aquarius remigis water striders in a naturalistic multigroup pool in which individuals could freely disperse among groups. The free movement of individuals generated variation in aggression and sex-ratio among groups, thereby increasing the importance of between-group selection compared to within-group selection. Females dispersed away from local aggression, creating more favorable mating environments for less-aggressive males. Furthermore, the use of contextual analysis revealed that individual male aggression positively predicted fitness whereas aggression at the group level negatively predicted fitness, empirically demonstrating the conflict between levels of selection acting on mating aggression
Eldakar, Omar Tonsi; David Sloan Wilson; Michael J. Dlugos; and John W. Pepper. 2010. "The Role of Multilevel Selection in the Evolution of Sexual Conflict in the Water Strider Aquarius remigis." Evolution 64, (11): 3183-3189. doi:10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.01087.x.