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Data supporting Fear of sex: Sexual conflict exposed as avoidance in a parthenogenetic invertebrate

Cite this dataset

Lee, Marcus; Solano Udina, Carlota; Hansson, Lars-Anders (2021). Data supporting Fear of sex: Sexual conflict exposed as avoidance in a parthenogenetic invertebrate [Dataset]. Dryad.


Males and females often have divergent evolutionary interests, generating sexual conflicts. This is particularly true in organisms that exhibit facultative sexuality, whereby females are capable of reproducing without fitness costs of mating. Here we provide the first documented evidence with quantitative tracking showing that sex interacts with social context to determine space-use of females, in a pattern resembling predator avoidance. To achieve this, we labeled Daphnia magna with fluorescent nanoparticles and utilized a 3-D tracking platform to record pairs of individuals swimming. The recordings comprised either same-sex or opposite-sex pairings. We found that females swam faster, deeper, more horizontally and more linearly when exposed to males than when exposed to females. Simultaneously, we found that male behavior did not differ depending on swimming partner and, importantly, we observed no sexual dimorphism in swimming behaviors when swimming with the same sex. Our results suggest that the presence of males in a population has the potential to influence the distribution of individuals, similarly to known threats, such as predation. This highlights that sexual conflict has clear spatial consequences and should be considered in such ecological frameworks, like the Landscape of Fear (LOF) concept. In a broader context, the connection of the evolutionary and social concept of sexual conflict and the ecological concept of LOF may improve our understanding of population dynamics and the spatial and temporal distribution of individuals in natural ecosystems.


We recommend to see the Methods section and Supplementary Information of the corresponding paper which details the data acquisition and handling.

Usage notes

For detailed information regarding the datasets, please refer to the Fear_of_Sex_data_readme.txt file.


Swedish Research Council, Award: 2016-03552