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Experimental evolution reveals differential evolutionary trajectories in male and female activity levels in response to sexual selection and metapopulation structure

Cite this dataset

Canal, David; Exposito, Eduardo; Garamszegi, László Zsolt; Garcia-Gonzalez, Francisco (2022). Experimental evolution reveals differential evolutionary trajectories in male and female activity levels in response to sexual selection and metapopulation structure [Dataset]. Dryad.


Behavior is central to interactions with the environment and thus has significant consequences for individual fitness. Sexual selection and demographic processes have been shown to independently shape behavioral evolution. However, while some studies have tested the simultaneous effects of these forces, no studies have investigated their interplay in behavioral evolution. We applied experimental evolution in the seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus to investigate, for the first time, the interactive effects of sexual selection intensity (high (polygamy) vs. minimal (enforced monogamy)) and metapopulation structure (yes/no) on the evolution of movement activity, a crucial behavior involved in multiples functions (e.g., dispersal, predator avoidance or resource acquisition) and thus, closely related to fitness. We found that the interactive effects of the selection regimes did not affect individual activity, which was assayed under two different environments (absence vs. presence of conspecific cues from both sexes). However, contrasting selection regimes led to sex- and context-dependent divergence in activity. The relaxation of sexual selection favored an increase in female, but not male, movement activity that was consistent between environmental contexts. In contrast, selection associated with the presence/absence of metapopulation structure led to context-dependent responses only in male activity. In environments containing cues from conspecifics, males from selection lines under population subdivision showed increased levels of activity compared to those assayed in an environment devoid of conspecifics cues, while the opposite was true for males from panmictic lines. These results underscore that both the effects of sexual selection and population spatial structure may be crucial in shaping sex-specific behavioral evolution.


By adopting a powerful approach to studying adaptation -experimental evolution- we investigate, for the first time, the independent and interactive effects of sexual selection and selection associated with metapopulation structure on the evolution of movement activity. As a model system, we used the seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus, a polygamous species characterized by intense sexual selection and sexual conflict. Beetles from a same original population were cultured in a 2x2 cross-classified selection experiment, whereby binary selection treatments associated with the intensity of sexual selection (high, under a polygamous mating system, or minimal, under an enforced monogamous mating system), and associated with metapopulation structure (yes/no), were crossed. Each of the resulting four combinations of selection treatments was replicated across four populations (Rodriguez-Exposito et al. 2021 for further details), over 79 generations. Subsequently, after a generation of common garden breeding, we measured the movement activity of individuals subjected to the four selection regimes (each combination of selection treatments) under two different environmental contexts (with and without cues from conspecifics; henceforth competitive and non-competitive environment, respectively).

See methods section of the associated paper for details on the experimental protocol and data processing for analysis.

Usage notes

The data are supplied by the authors with the request that future users of the data are aware that the experimental evolution study represents an ongoing research program.


During the analyses data were organized in two datasets: dataCOLUMNS and dataROWS

Name of the variables in "DataCOLUMNS" are:
ID = Individual ID
dathatch = Hatching date
sex = Sex
treat_line = Treatment + line identifier (unique code)
Msystem = Monogamy/Polygamy
structure = Yes/NO
treatment = Treatment (4 levels): NSPoly lines (polygamy without population structure); NSMono lines (MONOgamy without population structure);  SPoly lines (polygamy + population structure);SMono lines (MONOgamy + population structure)
Line = Number of selection line within each treatment (note: no unique number).  Each treatment was replicated four times.
size = Body size
date.trials = Raw date of the trial
dat.trials = Coded date of the trial
agetrials = Age of the individual at the date of the trial
order = Order of the recording: CU (Clean ->Used) or UC (Used_>clean)
Batch = Indicates  whether the recording was made during the 1st or 2nd group of recordings of each day
XtimeORDER = Mean hour at which the recording of the given order was made      
trtm_trial = Non-competitive ("clean") and competitive ("used" previously by other beetles)    
Numtrial = ID of the recording    
arena.trial = Position (1-12) of the individual withing the recording setting    
Hor.trial = Raw time of the recording        
timetrial = Time of the recording converter to decimals e.g. 10.55h= 10.91    
distance = Movement distance during the trial            
Problemtrials = No or Yes (in case of any incidence)    


The variables in the "DataROWS" are essentially the same but, as the information of a given individual (including that related to the behavioural assays) appears in the same row, the name of the variables makes reference to the type of the recording environment
e.g., dist.USED = distance in the competitive environment ("used" previously by others)
        dist.CL   = distance in the Non-competitive (non-used previously: "clean"= CL) environment


Further explanations on the variables and the analyses are given in the R script.


Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness in Spain, Award: PID2019-105547GB-I00; CGL2016-76173-P ; CGL2015-70639-P

National Research, Development and Innovation Office in Hungary, Award: K115970; K129215

Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Award: Premium Postdoctoral Research Program; ID: 2019-353