Evolution of divergent female mating preference in response to experimental sexual selection

Allan Debelle*, Michael G. Ritchie, Rhonda R. Snook

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
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Sexual selection is predicted to drive the coevolution of mating signals and preferences (mating traits) within populations, and could play a role in speciation if sexual isolation arises due to mating trait divergence between populations. However, few studies have demonstrated that differences in mating traits between populations result from sexual selection alone. Experimental evolution is a promising approach to directly examine the action of sexual selection onmating trait divergence among populations. We manipulated the opportunity for sexual selection (low vs. high) in populations of Drosophila pseudoobscura. Previous studies on these experimental populations have shown that sexual selection manipulation resulted in the divergence between sexual selection treatments of several courtship song parameters, including interpulse interval (IPI) which markedly influences male mating success. Here, we measure female preference for IPI using a playback design to test for preference divergence between the sexual selection treatments after 130 generations of experimental sexual selection. The results suggest that female preference has coevolved with male signal, in opposite directions between the sexual selection treatments, providing direct evidence of the ability of sexual selection to drive the divergent coevolution of mating traits between populations. We discuss the implications in the context sexual selection and speciation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2524-2533
Number of pages10
Issue number9
Early online date21 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


  • Coevolution
  • Courtship song
  • Drosophila
  • experimental evolution
  • population divergence
  • speciation
  • Male courtship song
  • Drosophila-melanogaster
  • Mate choice
  • Reproductive isolation
  • Experimental manipulation
  • Sympatric speciation
  • Artificial selection
  • Experimental removal
  • Acoustic preference
  • Species recognition


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