The evolution of sexual conflict

Considerations of sexual conflict are fundamental to understand the evolution of male and female adaptations and life histories. In fact, we now recognize sexual conflict as a mayor evolutionary mechanisms with potentially important implications for population growth and viability.  For example, sexual selection often gives rise to males with adaptations that are effective in male intrasexual competition but that, in doing so, harm those same females they are competing to access. Such female harm does not only tend to deviate females from their evolutionary optima, but can drastically affect population viability, leading to a “reproductive tragedy of the commons”. Unfortunately, we are still far from understanding what factors modulate the evolution of male-male competition, female harm levels, and sexual conflict at large, and how this all feeds back into population viability.

Our on-going research aims to contribute to fill these gaps in knowledge by investigating factors potentially modulating the evolution of sexual conflict. For example, we are currently investigating the role of kin selection in leading to reproductive cooperation (or “reproductive altruism”), how temperature affects male-male competition levels and the potential for sexual conflict, whether perception costs of reproduction can magnify the intensity of sexual selection, or the evolutionary interplay between ageing and sexual conflict.