Peak shifts and extinction under sex-specific selection

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A well-known property of sexual selection combined with a cross-sex genetic correlation (rmf) is that it can facilitate a peak shift on the adaptive landscape. How do these diversifying effects of sexual selection + rmf balance with the constraints imposed by such sexual antagonism, to affect the macroevolution of sexual dimorphism? Here, I extend existing quantitative genetic models of evolution on complex adaptive landscapes. Beyond recovering classical predictions for the conditions promoting a peak shift, I show that when rmf is moderate to strong, relatively weak sexual selection is required to induce a peak shift in males only. Increasing the strength of sexual selection leads to a sexually concordant peak shift, suggesting that macroevolutionary rates of sexual dimorphism may be largely decoupled from the strength of within-population sexual selection. Accounting explicitly for demography further reveals that sex-specific peak shifts may be more likely to be successful than concordant shifts in the face of extinction, especially when natural selection is strong. An overarching conclusion is that macroevolutionary patterns of sexual dimorphism are unlikely to be readily explained by within-population estimates of selection or constraint alone.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20210278
JournalBiology letters
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Evolutionary Biology

Free keywords

  • adaptive landscape
  • macroevolution
  • microevolution
  • sexual dimorphism
  • stabilizing selection


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