Demographic parameters including operational sex ratio (OSR) and population density may influence the opportunity for, and strength of sexual selection. Traditionally, male-biased OSRs and high population densities have been thought to increase the opportunity for sexual selection on male sexual traits due to increased male competition for mates. Recent experimental evidence, however, suggests that male-biased OSRs might reduce the opportunity for sexual selection due to increased sexual coercion experienced by females. How OSR, density, and any resultant changes in the opportunity for sexual selection actually affect selection on male sexual traits is unclear. In this study, we independently manipulated OSR and density in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata) without altering the number of males present. We recorded male and female behavior and used DNA microsatellite data to assign paternity to offspring and estimate male reproductive success. We then used linear selection analyses to examine the effects of OSR and density on directional sexual selection on male behavioral and morphological traits. We found that females were pursued more by males in male-biased treatments, despite no change in individual male behavior. There were no differences in sexual behavior experienced by females or performed by males in relation to density. Neither OSR nor density significantly altered the opportunity for sexual selection. Also, Although there was significant multivariate linear selection operating on males, neither OSR nor density altered the pattern of sexual selection on male traits. Our results suggest that differences in either OSR or density (independent of the number of males present) are unlikely to alter directional evolutionary change in male sexual traits.
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Vol. 62 • No. 1