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Data from: The physical environment mediates male harm and its effect on selection in females


Yun, Li et al. (2017), Data from: The physical environment mediates male harm and its effect on selection in females, Dryad, Dataset,


Recent experiments indicate that male preferential harassment of high-quality females reduces the variance in female fitness, thereby weakening natural selection through females and hampering adaptation and purging. We propose that this phenomenon, which results from a combination of male choice and male-induced harm, should be mediated by the physical environment in which intersexual interactions occur. Using Drosophila melanogaster, we examined intersexual interactions in small and simple (standard fly vials) versus slightly more realistic (small cages with spatial structure) environments. We show that in these more realistic environments, sexual interactions are less frequent, are no longer biased towards high-quality females, and that overall male harm is reduced. Next, we examine the selective advantage of high- over low-quality females while manipulating the opportunity for male choice. Male choice weakens the viability advantage of high-quality females in the simple environment, consistent with previous work, but strengthens selection on females in the more realistic environment. Laboratory studies in simple environments have strongly shaped our understanding of sexual conflict but may provide biased insight. Our results suggest that the physical environment plays a key role in the evolutionary consequences of sexual interactions and ultimately the alignment of natural and sexual selection.

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