Monogamy and the battle of the sexes

Annu Rev Entomol. 2009;54:361-78. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ento.54.110807.090608.

Abstract

Sexual conflict has been suggested to be important in the evolution of reproductive traits, with much recent theoretical and empirical evidence emphasizing its role in generating sexually antagonistic coevolution in the context of promiscuous mating. Here we shift attention to the role of sexual conflict in a monogamous mating context. Conflicts can arise, for example, when males are successful in imposing monandry at a cost to female fitness, or when females impose monogyny on males. Conflict over remating can also generate monogamy. For example, when males invest heavily in attempting to impose female monandry, the cost of their investment may prevent them from securing additional mates. We emphasize that sexual conflicts need not always generate sexually antagonistic coevolution, and that it is important to consider whether mating decisions are controlled primarily by males or females. Finally, we briefly discuss approaches to distinguish between conflict and classical modes of sexual selection, as this highlights difficulties associated with deciding whether monogamy is enforced by one sex or the other. We suggest that documenting the current fitness consequences of mate choice and mating patterns provides insight into the relative importance of classic and conflict modes of selection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Female
  • Insecta* / genetics
  • Male
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal*