Sexual selection predicts species richness across the animal kingdom

Tim Janicke, Michael G. Ritchie, Edward H. Morrow, Lucas Marie-Orleach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Our improving knowledge of the animal tree of life consistently demonstrates that some taxa diversify more rapidly than others, but what contributes to this variation remains poorly understood. An influential hypothesis proposes that selection arising from competition for mating partners plays a key role in promoting speciation. However, empirical evidence showing a link between proxies of this sexual selection and species richness is equivocal. Here, we collected standardized metrics of sexual selection for a broad range of animal taxa, and found that taxonomic families characterized by stronger sexual selection on males show relatively higher species richness. Thus, our data support the hypothesis that sexual selection elevates species richness. This could occur either by promoting speciation and/or by protecting species against extinction.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20180173
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1878
Early online date2 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2018


  • Bateman gradient
  • Bateman principles
  • Diversification
  • Macroevolution
  • Species diversity
  • Reproductive isolation


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