The extent to which sexual dimorphism can evolve within a population depends on an interaction between sexually divergent selection and constraints imposed by a genetic architecture that is shared between males and females. The degree of constraint within a population is normally inferred from the intersexual genetic correlation, r(mf) . However, such bivariate correlations ignore the potential constraining effect of genetic covariances between other sexually coexpressed traits. Using the fruit fly Drosophila serrata, a species that exhibits mutual mate preference for blends of homologous contact pheromones, we tested the impact of between-sex between-trait genetic covariances using an extended version of the genetic variance-covariance matrix, G, that includes Lande's (1980) between-sex covariance matrix, B. We find that including B greatly reduces the degree to which male and female traits are predicted to diverge in the face of divergent phenotypic selection. However, the degree to which B alters the response to selection differs between the sexes. The overall rate of male trait evolution is predicted to decline, but its direction remains relatively unchanged, whereas the opposite is found for females. We emphasize the importance of considering the B-matrix in microevolutionary studies of constraint on the evolution of sexual dimorphism.
© 2012 The Author(s).