The population consequences of sexual selection remain empirically unexplored. Comparative studies, involving extinction risk, have yielded different results as to the effect of sexual selection on population densities make contrasting predictions. Here, we investigate the relationship between sexual dimorphism (SD) and population productivity in the seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus, using 13 populations that have evolved in isolation. Geometric morphometric methods and image analysis are employed to form integrative measures of sexual dimorphism, composed of variation in weight, size, body shape, and pigmentation. We found a positive relationship between SD and adult fitness (net adult offspring production) across our study populations, but failed to find any association between SD and juvenile fitness (egg-to-adult survival). Several mechanisms may have contributed to the pattern found, and variance in sexual selection regimes across populations, either in female choice for “good genes” or in the magnitude of direct benefits provided by their mates, would tend to produce the pattern seen. However, our results suggest that evolutionary constraints in the form of intralocus sexual conflict may have been the major generator of the relationship seen between SD and population fitness.
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Vol. 62 • No. 3