Speciation and Sexual Conflict


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Abstract

We review mathematical models that explicitly consider the dynamics of evolutionary change driven by sexual conflict over mating rate when males are selected for increasing mating success whereas females are selected to restrict mating rate. These models focus on a pair of traits each of which is controlled by a separate set of genes expressed in one sex only. The traits control the probability of mating and/or fertilization. Overall, there are at least six different dynamic regimes observed in models of sexual conflict: (1) continuous coevolutionary chase between the sexes (which can result in allopatric speciation as a byproduct), (2) evolution towards an equilibrium, (3) cyclic evolution, (4) evolution towards a line of equilibria with subsequent random drift along this line, (5) Buridan's Ass regime involving extensive diversification in female alleles without comparable diversification in male alleles, and (6) extensive diversification in both male and female alleles (which can result in sympatric speciation). Mathematical models also show that different dynamic regimes can be observed with the same set of parameter values but under different initial conditions. It is also possible that the same population switches from one regime to another as a result of stochastic perturbations due to, say, random genetic drift. Moreover, different sets of loci controlling mating and fertilization in the same species can follow different dynamic regimes. We attempt to make some generalizations and identify important directions for theoretical and empirical work.

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