Many studies have addressed sexual selection in animals, but few data are available on animals that release eggs and sperm into the environment for external fertilization. Although this reproductive mode represents the ancestral condition and is still a very common reproductive strategy, it is underrepresented in empirical studies and theoretical treatments. Here I present data on the pattern of reproductive success in male and female sea urchins. The results suggest that the strength of sexual selection and the differences between the sexes in the intensity of sexual selection depend on mate density. In general, despite the high degree of multiple paternity, the variance in reproductive success appears to be lower in males and higher in females than it is in polygamous species with internal fertilization. These results may provide insight into the patterns of effective population size in marine invertebrates and also more generally the evolutionary transition from sexual monomorphism to polymorphism in adult traits.
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Vol. 45 • No. 5