Biology Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures

Sex and Tragedy: How social evolutionary theory provides insights to the evolution of sexual conflict

Event Name/Location

Biology Department Colloquium / University of West Virginia

Presntation Date


Document Type

Conference Presentation




The field of sexual conflict is based on the notion that males and females act against each other’s evolutionary interests, typically resulting in selection favoring aggressive males. However, just as the over-exploitation of resources can lead to tragedy of the commons, the over-exploitation of females by aggressive males can yield similar consequences. Laboratory experiments on sexual conflict often confine individuals to single groups which preclude the existence of selection between groups acting counter to this conflict. Here, a series of experiments will be discussed that demonstrated that in multi-group populations, aggressive male mating behavior is strongly favored within groups but selected against between groups, and this balance of selection at multiple levels is mediated by the free dispersal of individuals.

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