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Keywords:

  • Coevolution;
  • eco-evolutionary feedback;
  • female preference;
  • ornament;
  • perceptual constraint;
  • primary sex ratio

It is well recognized that sex allocation strategies can be influenced by sexual selection, when females adjust offspring sex ratios in response to their mates’ attractiveness. Yet the reciprocal influence of strategic sex allocation on processes of sexual selection has only recently been revealed. Recent theoretical work demonstrates that sex allocation weakens selection for female preferences, leading to the decline of male traits. However, these results have been derived assuming that females have perfect knowledge of mate attractiveness and precise control over cost-free allocation. Relaxing these assumptions highlights the importance of another feedback: that adaptive sex allocation must become difficult to maintain as traits and preferences decline. When sex allocation strategies erode not only traits and preferences but also their own selective advantage, predictions can no longer be expressed as a simple linear correlation between ornament exaggeration and adaptive sex allocation. Instead, strongest sex ratio biases may be found at intermediate trait levels.