Cover Image


View/Hide Left Panel

TABLE 12.1 Different Types of Competition Among Males for Access to Conspecific Females and Their Gametes (Types of Sexual Selection) That Occur Before and After Copulation


Intrasexual Selection

Intersexual Selection

Before copulation

Male-male battles

Classic female choice

During and after copulation

Sperm competition

Cryptic female choice

cesses; they include processes during copulation). Parker saw that they, too, like the precopulatory events emphasized by Darwin, can result in sexual selection on a male by affecting his success in competition with other males. There are postcopulatory equivalents inside the female of Darwin’s precopulatory male-male struggles and female choice (Table 12.1). If a female copulates with >1 male, and if one of these males is better than others at, for instance, removing sperm stored from previous males (Waage, 1979), this male will stand to sire more offspring and win out over the others. Appreciation that female biases can also have postcopulatory effects on male reproductive success, and thus exercise the postcopulatory equivalent of female choice among males, lagged behind (Thornhill, 1983; Eberhard, 1985), and was not presented as a general theory, however, until 1996 (Eberhard, 1996). After an initial period of negative reactions (Birkhead and Møller, 1997; Parker, 1997; Birkhead, 1998), CFC is now routinely included as a possible factor in studies of possible postcopulatory sexual selection (Simmons, 2001; Arnqvist and Rowe, 2003; Hosken and Stockley, 2004). Because important postcopulatory events are played out inside the female’s body, where she is largely in control of what happens, female choice seems a priori more likely to be important after copulation than it is leading up to copulation. There is a surprisingly long list of female-controlled processes that must be executed if insertion of the male’s genitalia into the female is to result in siring her offspring (Table 12.2). Other things being equal, any male better able to induce the female to carry out one of these processes more completely than she does when mating with other males stands to produce more offspring.


Whatever the reasons for Darwin’s original oversights, they correlate with a general failure by subsequent workers to link sexual selection to a variety of postcopulatory phenomena. Recently this isolation has been eroded. In this chapter I will explore several newly established connections with previously isolated fields and their consequences for evolutionary ideas. The phenomena I will discuss include the often elaborate structure

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement