Experimental evidence for multivariate stabilizing sexual selection

Evolution. 2005 Apr;59(4):871-80.


Stabilizing selection is a fundamental concept in evolutionary biology. In the presence of a single intermediate optimum phenotype (fitness peak) on the fitness surface, stabilizing selection should cause the population to evolve toward such a peak. This prediction has seldom been tested, particularly for suites of correlated traits. The lack of tests for an evolutionary match between population means and adaptive peaks may be due, at least in part, to problems associated with empirically detecting multivariate stabilizing selection and with testing whether population means are at the peak of multivariate fitness surfaces. Here we show how canonical analysis of the fitness surface, combined with the estimation of confidence regions for stationary points on quadratic response surfaces, may be used to define multivariate stabilizing selection on a suite of traits and to establish whether natural populations reside on the multivariate peak. We manufactured artificial advertisement calls of the male cricket Teleogryllus commodus and played them back to females in laboratory phonotaxis trials to estimate the linear and nonlinear sexual selection that female phonotactic choice imposes on male call structure. Significant nonlinear selection on the major axes of the fitness surface was convex in nature and displayed an intermediate optimum, indicating multivariate stabilizing selection. The mean phenotypes of four independent samples of males, from the same population as the females used in phonotaxis trials, were within the 95% confidence region for the fitness peak. These experiments indicate that stabilizing sexual selection may play an important role in the evolution of male call properties in natural populations of T. commodus.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animal Communication*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Biometry
  • Female
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Gryllidae / physiology*
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Sex Factors