Whether sexual selection generally promotes or impedes population persistence remains an open question. Intralocus sexual conflict (IaSC) can render sexual selection in males detrimental to the population by increasing the frequency of alleles with positive effects on male reproductive success but negative effects on female fecundity. Recent modeling based on fitness landscape theory, however, indicates that the relative impact of IaSC may be reduced in maladapted populations and that sexual selection therefore might promote adaptation when it is most needed. Here, we test this prediction using bean beetles that had undergone 80 generations of experimental evolution on two alternative host plants. We isolated and assessed the effect of maladaptation on sex‐specific strengths of selection and IaSC by cross‐rearing the two experimental evolution regimes on the alternative hosts and estimating within‐population genetic (co)variance for fitness in males and females. Two key predictions were upheld: males generally experienced stronger selection compared to females and maladaptation increased selection in females. However, maladaptation consistently decreased male‐bias in the strength of selection and IaSC was not reduced in maladapted populations. These findings imply that sexual selection can be disrupted in stressful environmental conditions, thus reducing one of the potential benefits of sexual reproduction in maladapted populations.
Evolution – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ; ;
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