Assortative mating for relatedness in a large naturally occurring population of Drosophila melanogaster

Authors


Stephen P. Robinson, Centre for Evolutionary Biology, School of Animal Biology (M092), The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.
Tel.: +61 8 6488 5824; fax: +61 8 6488 1029;
e-mail: stephen.robinson@graduate.uwa.edu.au

Abstract

New theoretical work on kin selection and inclusive fitness benefits predicts that individuals will sometimes choose close or intermediate relatives as mates to maximize their fitness. However, empirical examples supporting such predictions are rare. In this study, we look for such evidence in a natural population of Drosophila melanogaster. We compared mating and nonmating individuals to test whether mating was nonrandom with respect to relatedness. Consistent with optimal inbreeding, males were more closely related to their mate than to randomly sampled females. However, all individuals collected mating showed higher relatedness and males were not significantly more related to their mate than to other mating females. We also found a negative relationship between relatedness and fecundity. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that inclusive fitness benefits may drive inbreeding tolerance despite direct costs to fitness; however, an experimental approach is needed to investigate the link between mate preference and relatedness.

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