Adult fitness consequences of sexual selection in Drosophila melanogaster

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Sep 1;95(18):10687-92. doi: 10.1073/pnas.95.18.10687.


Few experiments have demonstrated a genetic correlation between the process of sexual selection and fitness benefits in offspring, either through female choice or male competition. Those that have looked at the relationship between female choice and offspring fitness have focused on juvenile fitness components, rather than fitness at later stages in the life cycle. In addition, many of these studies have not controlled for possible maternal effects. To test for a relationship between sexual selection and adult fitness, we carried out an artificial selection experiment in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. We created two treatments that varied in the level of opportunity for sexual selection. Increased opportunity for female choice and male competition was genetically correlated with an increase in adult survivorship, as well as an increase in male and female body size. Contrary to previous, single-generation studies, we did not find an increase in larval competitive ability. This study demonstrates that mate choice and/or male-male competition are correlated with an increase in at least one adult fitness component of offspring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Female
  • Larva / physiology
  • Male
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Sex Determination Processes*
  • Wings, Animal / anatomy & histology