Sexual selection predicts the persistence of populations within altered environments

The effect of sexual selection on species persistence remains unclear. A fascinating article, recently published in Ecology Letters, suggests that dung beetle species with more competition among males for mating are less likely go extinct (Parrett et al. 2019). The team followed 34 different species of tunneller dung beetle in the tropical rainforest of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. The results showed that species with horns were more likely to persist in the disturbed environments than were those without horns, and in the most disturbed environment, oil palm plantation, all of the 11 species that remained had horns. Furthermore, the researchers found that among the species with horns, those with relatively large horns for their body size were more likely to persist and had larger population sizes. This study represents the first evidence from a field system of population-level befit from pre-copulatory sexual selection.

The first author of this article, Jonathan Parrett, recently joined our group to investigate effect of sexual selection genome-wide patterns of genetic variation in the bulb mite. Congratulations Jon!

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