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Reproductive Competition and Selection On Male Traits At Varying Sex Ratios in the Field Cricket, Gryllus Pennsylvanicus

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Intensity of male-male competition and sexual selection were studied in the field cricket, Gryllus pennsylvanicus, in an outdoor arena at four sex ratios, male-only (5:0), male-biased (5:2), unity (5:5) and female-biased (5:10). Fighting frequency was highest at male-biased and unity sex ratios. Fighting success was correlated with male body weight at all sex ratios. Calling duration and searching distance decreased with increased female numbers. Opportunity for selection was highest at the male-biased and lowest at the female-biased sex ratio. Selection gradients and differentials were calculated and demonstrated that direct and total selection was highly variable and often relaxed. Direct selection favored male weight at the male-biased sex ratio and total selection for weight occurred at unity. There was no selection on male weight at the female-biased sex ratio. Total and direct selection for increased calling duration occurred at the male-biased sex ratio. Only total selection for calling duration was found at unity, whereas direct selection acted against calling duration at the female-biased sex ratio. Selection did not act on searching at any sex ratio. Natural variations in sex ratios occur and fluctuations in selection on correlated male traits may maintain additive genetic variation for traits important in male-male competition.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario Canada L2S 3A1


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