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Keywords:

  • Bateman gradients;
  • mating success variance;
  • null model;
  • sex differences;
  • variance in number of mates;
  • variance in reproductive success

Bateman's (1948) study showing greater variances in number of mates and reproductive success in male than female Drosophila melanogaster is a foundational paper in sexual selection. Here we show for the first time that his methods had flaws, including the elimination of genetic variance, sampling biases, miscalculations of fitness variances, statistical pseudo-replication, and selective presentation of data. We conclude that Bateman's results are unreliable, his conclusions are questionable, and his observed variances are similar to those expected under random mating. Despite our analysis, we do not intend this article as a criticism of Bateman; he accomplished his work without modern computational tools, and his approach was groundbreaking emphasizing the significance of fitness variance for sexual selection. However, this reanalysis has implications for what counts as evidence for sexual selection and we believe that our concerns should be of interest to contemporary students of sexual selection. We call for repetitions of Bateman's study using modern statistical and molecular methods.