• Adult sex ratio;
  • Lacerta vivipara;
  • operational sex ratio;
  • reproductive costs;
  • sexual conflict;
  • strength of sexual selection


Modern sexual selection theory indicates that reproductive costs rather than the operational sex ratio predict the intensity of sexual selection. We investigated sexual selection in the polygynandrous common lizard Lacerta vivipara. This species shows male aggression, causing high mating costs for females when adult sex ratios (ASR) are male-biased. We manipulated ASR in 12 experimental populations and quantified the intensity of sexual selection based on the relationship between reproductive success and body size. In sharp contrast to classical sexual selection theory predictions, positive directional sexual selection on male size was stronger and positive directional selection on female size weaker in female-biased populations than in male-biased populations. Thus, consistent with modern theory, directional sexual selection on male size was weaker in populations with higher female mating costs. This suggests that the costs of breeding, but not the operational sex ratio, correctly predicted the strength of sexual selection.