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Intralocus sexual conflict over wing length in a wild migratory bird

  • Maja Tarka
  • Mikael Åkesson
  • Dennis Hasselquist
  • Bengt Hansson
Publishing year: 2014
Language: English
Pages: 62-73
Publication/Series: American Naturalist
Volume: 183
Issue: 1
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract english

Intralocus sexual conflict (ISC) occurs when males and

females have different adaptive peaks but are constrained fromevolving

sexual dimorphism because of shared genes. Implications of this

conflict on evolutionary dynamics in wild populations have not been

investigated in detail. In comprehensive analyses of selection, heritability, and genetic correlations, we found evidence for an ISC over wing length, a key trait for flight performance and migration, in a long-term study of wild great reed warblers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus). We found moderate sexual dimorphism, high heritability,

moderate sexually antagonistic selection, and strong positive crosssex

genetic correlation in wing length, together supporting the presence

of ISC. A negative genetic correlation between male wing length

and female fitness indicated that females inheriting alleles for longer wings from their male relatives also inherited lower fitness.Moreover, cross-sex genetic correlations imposed constraint on the predicted microevolutionary trajectory of wing length (based on selection gradients), especially in females where the predicted response was reversed.

The degree of sexual dimorphism in wing length did not change over time, suggesting no sign of conflict resolution. Our study provides novel insight into how an ISC over a fitness trait can affect microevolution in a wild population under natural selection.


  • Biological Sciences
  • antagonistic selection
  • sexual dimorphism
  • sexual antagonism
  • evolutionary constraint
  • pedigree
  • quantitative genetics
  • Acrocephalus arundinaceus


  • Centre for Animal Movement Research
  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab
  • ISSN: 0003-0147
Dennis Hasselquist
E-mail: dennis [dot] hasselquist [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 46 222 37 08



Research group


Doctoral students and postdocs

Research fellows


Jacob Roved

PhD Students, main supervisor

PhD Students, assistant supervisor


Interview about my research in the Swedish podcast "Forskarn & jag"