Towards a resolution of the lek paradox

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2001
Authors:J. S. Kotiaho, Simmons, L. W., Tomkins, J. L.
Date Published:Apr 5
Accession Number:ISI:000167875400045
Keywords:attractiveness, body, condition indexes, condition-dependent traits, estimating fitness, evolution, genetic-variation, mating preferences, natural-selection, offspring condition, sexually selected trait

Genetic benefits in the shape of 'good genes' have been invoked to explain costly female choice in the absence of direct fitness benefits(1-3). Little genetic variance in fitness traits is expected, however, because directional selection tends to drive beneficial alleles to fixation(4-6). There seems to be little potential, therefore, for female choice to result in genetic benefits, giving rise to the 'lek paradox'(7-9). Nevertheless, evidence shows that genetic variance persists despite directional selection(10,11) and genetic benefits of female choice are frequently reported(12,13). A theoretical solution to the lek paradox has been proposed on the basis of two assumptions(14): that traits are condition-dependent, and that condition shows high genetic variance. The observed genetic variability in sexual traits will be accounted for, because a proportion of the genetic variance in condition will be captured and expressed in the trait(14). Here we report results from experiments showing that male courtship rate in the dung beetle Onthophagus taurus is a condition-dependent trait that is preferred by females. More importantly, male condition has high genetic variance and is genetically correlated with courtship rate. Our results thereby represent a significant step towards a resolution of the lek paradox.

URL:<Go to ISI>://000167875400045
Alternate Journal:Nature
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith