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Sexual Selection and Experimental Evolution

  1. Francisco Garcia-Gonzalez

Published Online: 17 JAN 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0022859



How to Cite

Garcia-Gonzalez, F. 2011. Sexual Selection and Experimental Evolution. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. The University of Western Australia, Centre for Evolutionary Biology, Western Australia, Australia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 17 JAN 2011


Sexual selection is a potent force shaping multiple aspects of the interaction between the sexes, including the characters underlying reproductive success and sexual conflict, and may play an important role in determining the viability of populations. Experimental evolution is a methodological approach in which researchers either act as selective agents or establish the selective pressures operating on individuals to investigate changes in traits across generations and the genetic underpinning of these changes. Experimental evolution replicates the evolutionary process under controlled conditions and, by doing so, offers exceptional insights into the role of variation, selection and adaptation in evolution. Applied to the study of pre-copulatory (before mating) and post-copulatory (after mating) sexual selection, experimental evolution proves critical to understand the evolutionary consequences of male–male competition and female mate choice, and the repercussions of concurrent or divergent interests between the sexes in regard to reproduction.

Key Concepts:

  • Experimental evolution is a methodological approach to study adaptation under controlled experimental conditions.

  • Sexual selection shapes the characters underlying reproductive success.

  • Experimental evolution is a powerful tool for understanding the evolutionary consequences of sexual selection and sexual conflict.


  • adaptation;
  • artificial selection;
  • female choice;
  • microevolution;
  • laboratory natural selection;
  • laboratory sexual selection;
  • reproduction;
  • sexual conflict;
  • sexually antagonistic coevolution;
  • sperm competition