Quantitative genetics and sex-specific selection on sexually dimorphic traits in bighorn sheep

Proc Biol Sci. 2008 Mar 22;275(1635):623-8. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2007.1361.


Sexual conflict at loci influencing traits shared between the sexes occurs when sex-specific selection pressures are antagonistic relative to the genetic correlation between the sexes. To assess whether there is sexual conflict over shared traits, we estimated heritability and intersexual genetic correlations for highly sexually dimorphic traits (horn volume and body mass) in a wild population of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) and quantified sex-specific selection using estimates of longevity and lifetime reproductive success. Body mass and horn volume showed significant additive genetic variance in both sexes, and intersexual genetic correlations were 0.24+/-0.28 for horn volume and 0.63+/-0.30 for body mass. For horn volume, selection coefficients did not significantly differ from zero in either sex. For body weight, selection coefficients were positive in females but did not differ from zero in males. The absence of detectable sexually antagonistic selection suggests that currently there are no sexual conflicts at loci influencing horn volume and body mass.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild
  • Body Weight
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genetics, Population / methods
  • Horns / anatomy & histology
  • Longevity / physiology
  • Male
  • Phenotype
  • Reproduction / physiology
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Sheep, Bighorn / physiology*