Kin selection and the evolution of sexual conflict

J Evol Biol. 2011 Jan;24(1):71-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2010.02143.x. Epub 2010 Nov 4.


Males and females do not always share the same evolutionary interests. This is particularly true in the case of multiple mating, where male-male competition can often lead to adaptations that are harmful to the female, and females can evolve counter adaptations to reduce the benefits males gain from such traits. Although social evolution has made substantial progress from kin selection theory, most studies of sexual conflict have ignored the effects of genetic relatedness. Here, I use a model of male harm and female resistance to investigate how kin selection affects the evolution of sexual conflict. Building on models of social evolution, I show that relatedness inhibits sexual conflict, in terms of male harm, whereas it has no effect on the evolution female resistance. This study examines a previously neglected mechanism that can potentially help to resolve sexual conflict over mating and highlights the potential importance of considering relatedness in empirical studies of sexual conflict.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Migration
  • Animals
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Inbreeding
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal*