Laura King Sirot


Mating structures are of interest to a wide range of biologists because, in many taxa, mating structures are incredibly diverse and range widely in elaboration even between closely related species. As a result of this diversity, mating structures have been useful in species identification. Historically, the evolution of diverse mating structures has been attributed to post-zygotic selection for pre-zygotic isolation to avoid production of hybrid offspring. More recently, sexual selection has been proposed as an alternative explanation for the rapid diversification of mating structures. Mating structures could diversify between populations through sexual selection if sexual selection acted differently on mating structures in different populations. Eberhard (1985) wrote a comprehensive book explaining how sexual selection could result in the diversification of mating structures and providing examples to support the hypothesis, but none of the examples were experimental tests of the hypothesis. Since 1985, a few studies have experimentally tested this hypothesis. However, there have been no empirical studies that connect intraspecific selection with interspecific diversification. In this paper, I review the reproductive isolation and sexual selection hypotheses and two recent experimental tests of the sexual selection hypothesis. Then, I provide a description of a system that may allow one to establish a connection between sexual selection on mating structures within a species and diversification of mating structures between species.

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