Males influence maternal effects that promote sexual selection : a quantitative genetic experiment with dung beetles Onthophagus taurus
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Recently, doubt has been cast on studies supporting good genes sexual selection by the suggestion that observed genetic benefits for offspring may be confounded by differential maternal allocation. In traditional analyses, observed genetic sire effects on offspring phenotype may result from females allocating more resources to the offspring of attractive males. However, maternal effects such as differential allocation may represent a mechanism promoting genetic sire effects, rather than an alternative to them. Here we report results from an experiment on the horned dung beetle Onthophagus taurus, in which we directly compare genetic sire effects with maternal effects that are dependent on sire phenotype. We found strong evidence that mothers provide more resources to offspring when mated with large-horned males. There were significant heritabilities for both horn length and body size, but when differential maternal effects were controlled, the observed estimates of genetic variance were greatly reduced. Our experiment provides evidence that differential maternal effects may amplify genetic effects on offspring traits that are closely related to fitness. Thus, our results may partly explain the relatively high coefficients of additive genetic variation observed in fitness-related traits and provide empirical support for the theoretical argument that maternal effects can play an important role in evolution.
Kotiahl , J S , Simmons , L W , Hunt , J & Tomkins , J L 2003 , ' Males influence maternal effects that promote sexual selection : a quantitative genetic experiment with dung beetles Onthophagus taurus ' American Naturalist , vol 161 , pp. 852-859 . DOI: 10.1086/375173
© 2003 by The University of Chicago.
J.S.K. was funded by the Academy of Finland, L.W.S. by the Australian Research Council, J.H. by an Australian Postgraduate Award, and J.L.T. by a postdoctoral research fellowship from the University of Western Australia.
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