• Condition dependence;
  • deleterious mutations;
  • good genes;
  • ionizing radiation;
  • maintenance of sex


Because of the production of males, sexual populations are expected to incur a 50% cost in potential growth rate. However, theory predicts that sexual competition between males can compensate for this cost by decreasing the mutation load of sexual populations. To test this hypothesis, I induced mutations in male bulb mites with ionizing radiation and subjected their progeny (F1) to two selective regimes differing in opportunity for sexual selection. Mutations which were not removed by selection acting on the F1 decreased embryonic viability in the F2. Viability was significantly higher in the treatment in which there was an opportunity for sexual selection than in the treatment in which sexual selection was experimentally eliminated. The results indicate that sexual selection can increase population fitness and, at least partly, compensate for the cost of sex.