Sexual selection as a promoter of population divergence in male phenotypic characters: a study on mainland and islet lizard populations




Sexual selection is often viewed as a promoter of population divergence, although some forms of sexual selection could rather hamper divergence. In the present study, we investigated whether sexual selection promotes divergence in sexually-selected traits. We studied population variation in sexual selection in relation to colour morph and body size in islet and mainland populations of the Skyros wall lizard (Podarcis gaigeae). Females were most likely to mate with orange-throated males with small body sizes, and male body size and coloration were therefore subject to correlational sexual selection. By contrast, male mating probabilities were not affected by any female phenotypic character. We also found variation in a female resistance trait (escape propensity), with females being more prone to escape when exposed to males from other habitats. Sexual selection could potentially affect the frequencies of throat colour morphs in this species by favouring orange-throated males of small body size, although there was no evidence of sexual selection for local mates or rare phenotypes. The results obtained in the present study thus do not support a role for sexual selection as a promoter of population divergence in this species. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, 106, 374–389.